Wildlife-friendly gardening

The flowers in the garden prove a strong attraction for butterflies © Paul Harris

The flowers in the garden prove a strong attraction for butterflies

The gardens are beautifully maintained but this isn’t to the detriment of wildlife. The gardeners make sure that they look after the gardens in a way that encourages wildlife to thrive.

When strolling round the gardens, keep a look out for the wildlife-friendly gardening practices that the gardening team follow to help wildlife flourish.

 

Attractive flowers    

The colourful, flower-rich herbaceous borders are attractive not just to us. Butterflies and insects such as bees and ladybirds love the flowers for their nectar. The team ensures that there is always an abundance of flowering plants in the borders. 

These areas are where you have a good chance of spotting numerous varieties of butterflies and insects, many of which are rare species or local to the area. Look out for beautiful butterflies such as Orange Tip, Painted Lady and Brimstone fluttering around and feeding on the flowers.

The hummingbird hawk moth also enjoys feeding in the borders as does the locally distributed Wool-Carder Bee.

You might even spot for yourself the Kidney-Spot Ladybird or the nationally scarce hill Cuckoo Bee. Other scarce species that visit the borders include the dotted bee fly and the solitary wasp which was only discovered nationally in 1986. 

The large numbers of insects and butterflies that the flowers attract has wider benefits for the gardens. Ladybirds and hoverflies eat aphids and other unwelcome garden pests that can damage plants. Bees and wasps help to pollinate plants by transferring pollen from one plant to another.  

 

Wild garden

This part of the garden, in contrast to the other mown areas, is kept as a meadow and is strimmed twice a year. With long grasses, spring bulbs and mature trees, this area creates a different wildlife habitat. 

You should be able to spot and hear a variety of birds, many of which are on the UK conservation priority list such as bullfinches and green woodpeckers. Grass snakes like to hide in the long grasses and at quiet times enjoy sunbathing out in the open, but don’t worry though as they’re completely harmless.

 

By the water’s edge

The gardeners only use a small amount of herbicides and fertilisers as these can harm wildlife, particularly freshwater habitats. When walking by the lake, you’ll notice we leave vegetation around the edges. This provides cover for dragonfly larvae, fish, frogs and newts. The vegetation also makes it easier for amphibians to hop in and out of the water.

 

Fallen logs

When a tree has been felled, we leave brash and ringed wood in heaps to encourage insect habitats. Beetles, woodlice and digger wasps live in decayed wood and birds love to forage for insects amongst the debris.

You may notice that old trees that have fallen are left on the ground and dead trees have not been felled. As large lumps of wood, they provide many valuable habitats for numerous insects that like to live in dead wood.