One of the key areas of focus at The Garden House is supporting and appreciating wildlife. We are using an organic approach, finding ways to operate without chemicals. Wildlife considerations are embedded in development and management decisions on the estate. Some of the wildlife themes that we have been developing include:
Habitat creation: creating habitats for a wide range of creatures, including nesting boxes for birds and bats, hibernaculums for amphibians and reptiles, deadwood piles for insects and other creatures, wildlife friendly ponds with gentle slopes in and out for amphibians; creating a pollen and nectar source for wild bees and insects and for the bees that we keep on the estate.
Habitat Diversity: creating a varied environment so that there is a place for a wealth of wildlife to co-exist, whether a water based environment such as a pond, including rocky, muddy, stony and grassy edges and vegetative cover; food rich hedgerows, mixed species woodland, wildflower meadow, wet areas, dry areas, tall plants, short plants, and a succession of flowering plants throughout the year.
Linked wildlife networks: appreciating the movement of wildlife and the need to retain wildlife corridors for creatures to move and live with relative safety
Timing of management: to avoid disturbing nesting birds by not felling any trees or disturbing hedges between March and the end of September; mowing after seeds have had the chance to develop for wildflowers, etc.
Selective Cutting: When mowing, cutting and coppicing, we try to leave some areas untouched, so that there is always somewhere safe for creatures
Supporting an understanding of wildlife needs: through education, involvement and passion
We continue to increase the wildlife value of the site through varied habitat creation and habitat conservation to maximise the potential whilst striving to find the balance to allow people to enjoy the environment and the creatures that it supports.
Groups and volunteers helping at The Garden House have been nurturing the wildlife value of the estate and we hope they will enjoy the benefits of both their own and others’ efforts, with plenty of new projects for the future.
We have frequently worked with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and value the work that they do. We appreciate that our small patch of land is part of a wider landscape with implications for passing wildlife. The Living Landscapes strategy run by SWT supports this theme. SWT have advised us on aspects of developing and managing the site and they have held a wildlife gardening session at The Garden House. We have been SWT’s ‘Wildlife Friendly Garden – Gold Winners’ in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 and hope to continue and improve on the standard!