“Gar­den­ing with na­ture is the only way” Di­verse habi­tats and nec­tar­rich flow­ers in a wildlife-friendly plot

This wildlife-friendly plot is full of nec­tar-rich flow­ers and a di­verse range of habi­tats. Ju­lia Faulcon­bridge gives us a tour

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

Tend­ing a gar­den that wel­comes wildlife is one of the most re­ward­ing things you can do. This pic­turesque cot­tage gar­den in Not­ting­hamshire is full of wildlife­friendly habi­tats and nec­tar-rich flow­ers that of­fer a de­li­cious drink for pol­li­na­tors. “Gar­den­ing just doesn’t make sense un­less it’s done in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the nat­u­ral world,” says owner Ju­lia Faulcon­bridge. “We’ve been or­ganic here for al­most 33 years, avoid­ing all ar­ti­fi­cial fer­tilis­ers, pes­ti­cides and fungi­cides. The only ex­cep­tion is the oc­ca­sional use of weed­killer as a spot ap­pli­ca­tion on bindweed. It’s a real prob­lem that we see no other way of erad­i­cat­ing.” The gar­den of­fers a nat­u­ral safe haven for wildlife. “There are ma­ture trees and a ‘wood­land edge’ habi­tat, log piles and leaf piles, a dry-stone wall, a wildlife pond and a se­dum roof,” says Ju­lia. “A huge range of wild crea­tures live here as a re­sult. We’ve got frogs, toads and newts in the pond as well as dragon­flies and dam­sel­flies. Grass snakes have been spot­ted in our dry-stone wall and some­times, if we lift large stones up in the mid­dle of winter, there are baby grass snakes hid­ing un­der­neath.” Birds nest all around the gar­den, with sev­eral fam­i­lies of wrens and black­birds set­ting up home here last spring. Swifts and star­lings nest in the house roof and jack­daws nest in the chim­ney. “We in­tro­duced some homes for soli­tary bees and now we of­ten see red ma­son bees in May and June, fol­lowed by leaf-cut­ter bees in late sum­mer. These lay their eggs in our bee ho­tel

“Fam­i­lies of wrens and black­birds set up home here”

“There are few prob­lems with slugs or snails – the frogs soon take care of them”

com­part­ments and nib­ble lit­tle half cir­cles from leaves nearby to block up the en­trances and pro­tect their eggs. It’s in­cred­i­bly clever.” Hedge­hogs visit, too. “A whole fam­ily of them ar­rived a few years ago, which was so ex­cit­ing. Although, it’s very sad that their over­all num­bers are on the wane.” Bum­ble­bees, but­ter­flies and hov­er­flies skit around in the sun­shine, mak­ing way for bats when night falls. When the cou­ple moved here in 1984 the gar­den was mainly laid to lawn. “We be­gan by cre­at­ing ter­rac­ing to make a fea­ture of its slope, and took plant­ing in­spi­ra­tion from books by Gertrude Jekyll and Margery Fish,” says Ju­lia. “We never had an over­all plan and we still don’t – it’s just slowly taken shape over the years and is now what I would call a mod­ern cot­tage-style gar­den.” Much of the lawn has been re­moved and the gar­den now boasts deep and volup­tuous bor­ders filled with peren­ni­als, and an in­for­mal gravel gar­den in­spired by Beth Chatto’s dry gardens in Es­sex. “Many of the plants here self-seed,” says Ju­lia. “They cre­ate new and beau­ti­ful plant com­bi­na­tions with­out any help from us, so many are left in situ. It’s a good thing not to be too tidy. “We also grow an­nu­als from seed to add a lit­tle ex­tra sea­sonal colour,” she says. “When we last tried to count up the dif­fer­ent plants we have, we reached 500 be­fore we gave up count­ing!” The cur­rent pond was added in 2007, with a gen­tly slop­ing beach on one side for easy wildlife ac­cess. “There’s plenty of shel­ter from mar­ginal plants such as Iris lae­vi­gata and marsh marigolds, as well as float­ing water hawthorn,” says Ju­lia. The gar­den’s rich bio­di­ver­sity means there are few prob­lems with slugs and snails. “The frogs soon take care of them,” she says. “When you gar­den or­gan­i­cally, wildlife will prey on your pests, so we like to sup­port wildlife in turn by en­sur­ing there’s al­ways plenty in flower, all year round.” Late winter sees Daphne bholua come into flower, fol­lowed by snow­drops, spring tulips and daf­fodils, and once these have gone over, sum­mer blooms emerge in­clud­ing in­sect­friendly agas­tache, laven­der, nepeta and echi­naceas. “We’ll plug any gaps with an­nu­als such as zin­nias, scabi­ous, titho­nia and cos­mos, to com­ple­ment late-sum­mer peren­ni­als such as cro­cos­mia ‘Lu­cifer’, Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis and pen­ste­mons.” In the front gar­den, Ju­lia and Mar­tyn have a green­house and small nurs­ery area grow­ing peren­ni­als for char­ity. “There’s also a new wood­land bed un­der a large mag­no­lia and veg­eta­bles and fruit in­clud­ing au­tumn rasp­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, black­cur­rants, black­ber­ries, cor­don ap­ple and pear trees. One of the down­sides to hav­ing such a wildlife-rich gar­den is when you see a father black­bird feed­ing a young­ster on the first rasp­ber­ries of the sea­son then watch­ing as the young­ster goes in to help him­self!” But it’s clear Ju­lia and Mar­tyn hold no grudge against these hun­gry fledglings. “For us, gar­den­ing with na­ture is the only way,” says Ju­lia. “It’s com­pletely in­trin­sic. We grew up in the 1960s, reading the likes of Rachel Car­son’s Si­lent Spring and wit­ness­ing the early en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment, so we’ve al­ways gar­dened in a way that cre­ates habi­tats for in­sects, birds and mam­mals. For us, it’s an ab­so­lute ba­sic.”

PRETTY AS A PIC­TURE This tran­quil set­ting is ideal for a wildlife pond. Plants in the sur­round­ing beds in­clude al­stroe­me­ria, blue aga­pan­thus, pink echi­nacea, Ver­bena has­tata rosea, spires of pur­ple lythrum, yel­low he­liop­sis, or­ange titho­nia and Cos­mos bip­in­na­tus ‘Di­ablo’

RE­LAXED LOOK (clock­wise from top left) Pink rose ‘Mor­timer Sack­ler’ climbs over the wooden per­gola; the gravel gar­den path, flanked by Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis, Kal­imeris in­cisa ‘Blue Star’, white cac­tus­flow­ered dahlias and ar­gy­ran­the­mums; yel­low Rud­beckia fulgida with kniphofia ‘Lit­tle Maid’; stone sink with cat or­na­ment; echineaceas and blue lythrum; ma­genta rose ‘Rhap­sody in Blue’

NEC­TAR RICH (clock­wise from above) Pink monar­das jos­tle with yel­low he­liop­sis, li­lac phlox, hi­bis­cus ‘Blue Bird’ and spires of pur­ple agas­tache ‘Black Ad­der’; the gravel gar­den; a pond­side view show­ing the sum­mer­house; the pond’s slop­ing beach gives bet­ter ac­cess for small mam­mals, with Ver­bena has­tata rosea and V. bonar­ien­sis in the fore­ground; de­mure white Anemone hy­brida ‘Honorine Jobert’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.