A wildlife haven in Coleton Fishacre garden

Painted Lady butterfly (Cynthia-Vanessa cardui) butterfly feeding on a dahlia flower, a nectar-rich plant in the garden at Coleton Fishacre, South Devon, UK

Coleton Fishacre garden is a haven for wildlife; its combination of flower borders, woodland, grassland and streams create a variety of habitats for many creatures.

Unimproved grassland

Before the house and garden were built here, this valley was grassy farmland, which would have been grazed for hundreds of years. There are some areas of the garden which have never been ploughed or treated with fertilisers, and this has allowed a rich range of plants and animals to thrive. Butterflies such as the marbled white and the common blue love the areas of unimproved grassland, as do field voles, meadow grasshoppers, and plants such as oxeye daisy, birdfoot trefoil and betony.

Unimproved grasses at Coleton Fishacre are great for wildlife
Wild grasses at Coleton Fishacre

Mixed flower borders

The terraces and flower borders filled with a variety of flowers are a great nectar source for insects like butterflies, moths and bees. The gardeners have created a pictorial meadow by the café which is perfect for insects; the seed mix is available to buy so that you can take a bit of Coleton Fishacre home with you. 


Ponds and streams

The combination of the stream running down the valley, and the sea being so close, aids the growth of many unusual trees and shrubs. It also creates a home for newts, dragonflies, toads and grass snakes. You might see a snake if you keep a keen eye out on a sunny day; they like to sunbathe on smooth rocks. 

On still days you can see the house reflected in the ponds at Coleton Fishacre
The house at Coleton Fishacre reflected in the still pond at Coleton Fishacre



Hedgerows provide a corridor to link different wildlife habitats and act as a refuge and a home for lots of creatures. The spring blossom is a great source of nectar for insects, and the fruit in the autumn is ideal for birds and small mammals.

Dead wood is a good habitat for insects, so you will see some log piles in Coleton Fishacre garden
A pile of logs in Coleton Fishacre garden


Coleton Fishacre's woodland is a mix of broadleaved trees and conifers, which provide shelter for tawny owls, great spotted woodpeckers and a whole host of other birds. Dead wood and leaf litter are vital for insects and fungi, which is why you'll see log piles in the woodland near Scout Point.