Five of our most wildlife-friendly gardens

The house and garden at Tintinhull

Many of our native species are under threat. But we believe that the way we garden can provide a huge boost to wildlife. What we choose to plant. What we allow to go wild. What we build and what we leave to decay. The right gardening decisions can make a big difference to our native flora and fauna. Here are five gardens where we are putting nature at the heart of what we do

Tintinhull, Somerset

At Tintinhull the resident and visiting birds have been recorded for many years. ‘It started with the previous senior gardener, Tanis Roberts,’ says Gardener-in-Charge Jessica Evans.

‘She kept regular records of what she saw and heard in the gardens and woodland.’ This work is now continued by Andrew Summers, a volunteer at Tintinhull.

‘These records will help us to spot any changes in the bird populations over the years,’ says Jessica. ‘For our visitors’ enjoyment we have also installed a bird box and a bird feeder with cameras. These live feed onto the television in the tea room on site.’

The Fountain Garden at Tintinhull Garden, Somerset
The Fountain Garden at Tintinhull Garden, Somerset

Standen, West Sussex

‘We regularly coppice the woodland at Standen,’ says Jo Grange. ‘This ensures that new areas of woodland are constantly rejuvenated for wildlife, as other areas become more mature.

Bats also return to nest in the Water Tower in the house during the summer months. ‘To protect them, we close the Water Tower to staff and visitors from May until late-September,’ says Jo. ‘This allows the bats to nest without disturbance. In the summer months, the bats come first!’

The woodland at Standen, West Sussex, is a haven for wildlife
Discover woodlands at Standen, West Sussex

Castle Drogo, Devon

‘Here at Castle Drogo we plant to encourage bees and butterflies as much as we can in the garden,’ says Emma Robertson, head gardener. ‘We have a large wild flower meadow planted with apple, damsons and plum trees. This area sits right next to our bee hives which are looked after by the garden staff and volunteers.’  

The formal garden at castle Drogo also has a fragrant terrace featuring beds full of scented plants that the bees and butterflies love. ‘You can sometimes catch a hummingbird moth on a quiet sunny day,’ says Emma.

‘The herbaceous borders are large and packed with flowers from spring until autumn and as you walk along you are often serenaded with the soft humming of bees and hoverflies.’

The garden is bursting with life at Castle Drogo, Devon
Bright purple alliums in the garden

Lyveden, Northamptonshire

Here we have reinstated the meadows and sell wildflower seeds. This allows visitors to ‘take a piece of Lyveden home with them’. But it also enables them to talk about land management practices and the benefits the meadows bring and what visitors can do on a smaller scale in their own gardens.

Wildflower at Lyveden
Wildflower at Lyveden

Nymans, West Sussex

'We are always thinking green and we make this happen by having lots of wild flower meadows to attract pollinating insects, producing wildlife corridors, providing a habitat for birds and mammals and creating a diverse eco system,' says Stephen Herrington, Head Gardener, Nymans.

'Over the last few years we have extended these areas and we are keen to carry this on with a new Wild Flower Meadow being planned for the arboretum, which will help to improve our land condition,’

‘The most important thing we do to help wildlife is to use minimal chemicals and man-made fertilisers as this effects the eco system. But it feels like the time now to look at reducing our chemical usage in the main garden to zero.’

The Nursery is already completely chemical free and we only us a small amount in the garden.  

Meadow grassland in front of The Pinetum, home to the conifer collection at Nymans, West Sussex
The pinetum - home to the conifer collection