Osterley Park, a hedgehog hot-spot

Hedgehogs are being spotted at Osterley Park and House, a National Trust property in west London

A two-year long commitment to organic gardening has seen Osterley Park and House become a hot-spot for hedgehogs. The west London property cut back on its use of fungicides and insecticides eight years ago and limits its use of weed killers to a small number of paths around the estate.

Below Osterley's Head Gardener, Andy Eddy explains how an organic approach to gardening has contributed to resurgent wealth of wildlife.

A hedgehog hot-spot

We've found a number of hegehogs around the gardens at Osterley this year. Most often we find them hiding under the tarpaulins we've used to cover our compost heaps. Earlier this year we found a mother with her two babies.

A curled up hedgehog on a compost heap at Osterley Park and House, London
A hedgehog curled up in a compost pile, among the leaves on the estate at Osterley Park and House, London.

The effects of organic gardening

We have been almost exclusively organic in the gardens and pleasure grounds of Osterley Park for two years now, but we've not been using fungicides or insecticides for at least 8 years.

We only use glyphosate weed killer on our paths in the garden but not at all in the Tudor Walled Garden where we grow all of our organic veg which is harvested for use in our café.

Andy Eddy, Head Gardener at Osterley Park and House, talks to visitors in the garden
Andy Eddy, Head Gardener at Osterley Park and House, talks to visitors in the garden

You can really tell the difference in Great Meadow, where we can see all the various layers of bio-diversity. From the insects and small mammals to the larger birds of prey such as owls, kestrels and red kites which feed on them. 

Matthew Oates in the Great Meadow at Osterley Park and House, London.
Matthew Oates taking visitors on a wildlife walk in the Great Meadow at Osterley Park and House, London.

We've seen other benefits within the garden such as the time when a large infestation of small caterpillars attacked a plant called Goat’s Beard. Once upon a time we would have sprayed with an insecticide, but instead we let nature take its course.

We watched and waited until the parents of a brood of Long Tailed Tits, which were nesting in a box that we had put up for them outside our gardeners’ bothy, found the caterpillars and spent the next 2 days flying to and fro to feed them to their young – a very satisfying outcome.