Have you seen Ham's new nature gardening display?

The Garden Room display brings gardening for nature to life at Ham House and Garden, London

Garden-lovers looking to encourage nature in your own garden – large or small - could find inspiration in this new display at Ham House and Garden.

The Garden Room installation tells the story of how the Ham Garden team that cares for this 12 acre 17th century walled garden is encouraging wildlife to thrive on the site in the heart of London’s zone 4.

Formal garden shaped for nature

Head Gardener, Rosie Fyles, said: ‘With meters of clipped topiary hedges, and tightly edged lawns, a historic formal garden like Ham is perhaps not a place you would expect to see gardening for nature in action, but that’s how we’ve been cultivating the garden for the past ten years.’

The Cherry Garden, or East Garden with its statue and foliage at Ham House
A view through the Hornbeam arch to The Cherry Garden, or East Garden with its statue and foliage at Ham House, Richmond-upon-Thames, London
The Cherry Garden, or East Garden with its statue and foliage at Ham House

Look back into history for fresh ideas

And there is evidence of gardening for nature that goes even further back in Ham House’s history.

‘Looking back at the records for Ham’s garden in the 17th century has revealed layer upon layer of a living landscape where nature and the garden worked as one,' explains Rosie.

Period plants used in the formal areas, dating from 1680s, were often those gathered straight from the wild. 'They evolved naturally for their own survival, and were totally reliant on how they interact with nature. As well choosing these historic plants for our displays today, we incorporate modern organic principles including make our own compost, planting for climate change and operating peat-free.’

Kestrels are among the wildlife sighted at Ham House and Garden, London.
Kestrels are among the wildlife sighted at Ham House and Garden, London.
Kestrels are among the wildlife sighted at Ham House and Garden, London.

Wildlife wins thanks to organic approach

The Garden Room installation invites visitors to discover more about the methods Rosie and her team uses, and the benefits this has had for nature.

She said: 'We have seen some really encouraging examples of ‘wildlife wins’ at thanks to the organic approach in the garden – including the first pair of nesting woodpeckers in the kitchen garden this year, regular sightings of kestrels, little owls, songbirds and other species feeding in the garden and meadow areas.'

There have also been sightings of rare bees, and butterflies finding food and shelter on  plants, and five huge badger sets which now stretch across the site.

'We’ve also seen smaller signs of success,' she adds. 'With colonies of rare wildflowers starting to take hold including meadow saxifrage.’

The Garden Room installation is now open. It’s free to National Trust members, and included within the entry fee for non-members who pay to visit the garden. Look out for changing seasonal tips and behind the scenes information from the Ham House Garden team within the display too.

" As well choosing historic plants in the garden, we incorporate modern principles like make our own compost and operating peat-free."
- Rosie Fyles