Jon Madge on how garden planning helps birds, bats and pollinators
VOLUNTEERING FOR DEVON WILDLIFE TRUST’S GARDEN GROUP HAS GIVEN ME A CHANCE TO USE MY SKILLS TO BENEFIT WILDLIFE, SAYS JON MADGE.
When I joined the garden group four years ago, we were tasked with making the wildlife garden at Cricklepit Mill – the Trust’s headquarters – more presentable, but weren’t given much more of a steer than that, so we came up with our own plan. The first thing we did was put in a bee and butterfly border for pollinators. We’d noticed the lack of insect variety in the garden because there was nothing to draw them in. By putting in a variety of wildflowers – such as rosemary, lavender, catmint and asters – there is now something in flower for most of the year. We’ve also cut up bamboo canes for mason bees and we had our first emergence this year. One of our volunteers is an amateur botanist, and she has recorded up to 200 plant species in the garden now – nearly double the number when we began. We’re building a small pond, and have put in bird and bat boxes. We hope it can be a showcase for what other people can do in their own gardens. Working here has boosted my confidence. I was at a low ebb when I started – I’d been made redundant after 15 years working as a planner – and it has allowed me to use my garden design and project management skills. I’m studying for an RHS Level 3 Horticulture Certificate, and I’m hoping that I can eventually get a job working full time somewhere like the National Trust. But it’s also nice when people come round the garden and just say how lovely it looks.
Checking in: Cricklepit Mill’s bug hotel.