Do the pollinators love your patch? or are you growing flowers that attract them? or do you have places for hedgehogs, beetles? or do you have a pond? People’s vote.
Nominated by Rebecca Asher, Elizabeth Ing and Malcolm J Nichols
Open Space Bubble Gate Garden – Beautiful, and beautifully maintained, quiet spot in the middle of Zone 1.
Roots and Shoots is a charity that provides courses for students with educational needs. We are very fortunate to work in a beautiful environment that has a wildlife garden, wild flower gardens, trees, an area for growing vegetables and a large greenhouse for all our growing needs. We are nominating our main public garden which offers the general public a place to meet up, relax, play in and enjoy the abundance of wildlife that also inhabit the space. W have worked hard to create a cut flower garden in the middle of the site, a large rose covered walkway for shade, a large flower border and a smaller butterfly garden. Some areas have been left natural to enhance the biodiversity in the garden and also to add more interest and contrast to the structure of the space. We have used plenty of found materials, grown lots of native plants from seed and put in hours of hard work. The garden is constantly evolving and improving and we are so lucky to experience it everyday.
Roots and Shoots provides training, volunteering and therapeutic activities for the most vulnerable and important people in our society, as well as providing a space for environmental education for local school children They have begun to regenerate their wildlife garden and this year have created a wildflower meadow as part of their wild garden. This has involved all the various groups that visit roots and shoots and has dramatically increased the visiting pollinator population.
Nominated by Jill Seymour
Streatham Common Community Garden welcomes new and experienced gardeners to create something green and wonderful. Part of the garden is set aside for ‘learner plotters’, who are new to gardening. They tend a small patch for a year, with the support of our Community Gardeners and advice from our experienced volunteers. Elsewhere in the garden we have rotational beds, a fruit garden with trees ranging from apples and pears to kiwis and figs and a wilder area around our mulberry tree. For the first time this year we have also set aside a dedicated area for little growers, who come every week with an adult to learn about growing good things to eat, to enjoy the flowers and appreciate the rich variety of wildlife. Without using pesticides, we raise fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowering plants including sweet peas, marigolds, cosmos, cornflowers, poppies and many others. It is a special place for people, insects, birds, mice, night-time foxes, squirrels and the occasional frog! Some creatures are resident in our bird boxes, at the bug hotel or amongst logs and decaying wood. Others are visitors enjoying the pollinator plants, our bird feeders and areas of the garden that are less tidy. Every year we organise a bug hunt for children and we have big plans around our mulberry tree to create a small woodland area, as well as introducing a new pond, helping us to showcase the variety of life that can be found and enjoyed here in the centre of London.
Nominated by Georgina Schueller
When Urban Growth installed our raised bed garden 4 years ago, we asked them to prioritise pollen-rich plants that flowered at different times throughout the year. We’ve added Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Hellebores and Primroses for a Winter food source. To increase moth and butterfly food plants, we grow Comfrey, Hops, Foxgloves, Honeysuckle, Mallow and Oxeye Daisy. For moths we cultivate night flowering Evening Primrose. We have 2 Apple trees and have coppiced the one remaining willow, keeping it as a smaller habitat by creating a living sculpture – a project in progress! Honey bees from Reay Primary School nearby use our garden and the wonderful unmowed wildflower areas around our estate, as do all kinds of bumblebees, hoverflies and invertebrates. The garden is 100% organic, and we’ve only ever used peat free compost. We’ve recently improved our composting system, converting from plastic bins to purpose-built wooden pallet composters made locally. An increased capacity enables us to compost all the garden’s green waste, producing organic matter teeming with life. The garden is increasingly foraged by songbirds – Blackbirds and Robins. Tits and a Wren visit, plus House Sparrows and species of Finch. We have added water in a repurposed metal bin lid for birds and bees, and a log pile for beetles, different larvae and fungus. In 2019 we surveyed the garden to feed into a national survey of wildlife in British Gardens promoted by BBC Springwatch. We hope that Caldwell Gardens will continue to improve in biodiversity and contribute to the biodiversity ‘web’ that spans Lambeth, and beyond.
Nominated by Laura Reynolds
Bernie Spain gardens is a beautiful park with a small community garden area where we grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. It is just behind the Southbank in Waterloo and is well used by people who live work and study in the area. Over the last few years the volunteer gardening group have added a range of features to increase biodiversity and support the varied wildlife in the garden. The planting for the whole of Bernie Spain South park has been designed to encourage pollinators into the garden with lots of lavender, salvias, thyme, roses, spring bulbs and dahlias. At the moment the garden is buzzing with bees and hover files and there are lots of sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. Our borders house our fruit bushes and have been planted with native hedging to encourage wildlife and to provide food and shelter for birds and insects around the year. Our wildflower collection has been established in collaboration with gardener Heidi Cutts from St George the Martyr with sharing of seeds and small plants to increase the diversification of the plants. We have planted edible flowers like calendula, borage and violas around the beds and in the herb wheels to encourage pollinators to come and pollinate our fruit and veg. A recent wildflower and “weed” identification walk revealed that over 30 different wildflowers were growing in the space, either planted by us or arriving all by themselves. We have established three horizontal bug zones providing damp habitat for bugs in the form of rotten logs and plant material, and nest building materials for the local sparrow colony who are seen swooping down regularly to collect supplies. We built an upright bug hotel inspired by the style of the flats opposite at Palm Housing Cooperative which provides a dry habitat. We have a tiny pond at the foot of one of our herb wheels to encourage insects and provide bee and bird drinking facilities. We have been experimenting with nettle and comfrey “teas” to use as fertiliser for the vegetables in our raised beds, made with plants from our own garden. We have been researching how to improve our soil health and have a no dig policy to help protect the soil structure, mulching as much as possible instead, always using peat free composts or manure from a local city farm. We are an organic garden and use no pesticides. The recent slug invasion was dealt with using beer traps, and then nematodes which are a biological control causing harm only to the slugs. The raised beds contain rhubarb, goji berries, radishes, carrots, cabbage, peas, beans, tomatoes, basil, kale, cavolo nero, chard, radiccio, potatoes (in bags) strawberries, spinach, orach, salad leaves, broccoli and marigolds in abundance. We have a small orchard with plum, damson, pear, apple and apricot trees which we put in with support from the Orchard Project. These trees provide a longer term source of food compared to annual plants often grown in allotments and community gardens. In the winter we make our own bird feeders and put them out to make sure local birds have food to keep them going. Bat habitat is next on our list, working out how to locate the bat boxes, and we are planning to start composting on site on a small scale. The gardening volunteers and staff have learnt a huge amount over the last few years from visiting other gardens, having guests come and speak to us and our own research. We have been part of the community harvest project with Capital Growth and benefited from their training and the expertise of a mentor from Kew Gardens to help us take our ideas forward. The group have learnt so much about why we are doing things in a certain way and how that is connected to wider environmental issues. We have been working closely with the contracted gardener in the park to learn together about ways of gardening organically, with a lower impact to the environment and to increase biodiversity across the wider site.
Nominated by Lee Stanbury
Holy Trinity’s woodland garden is an attractive entrance in to the school. It provides a peaceful place for the children and their families to relax and enjoy the many different flowering and foliage plant varieties to attract various pollinating insects. Many visitors to the school comment on the garden and can be viewed by passing members of the public and local residents. We hope with the wide range of plants that this increases insects and pollinators and to use this to help the children to learn all about them. This is a unique space in a south London school.
Nominated by Victoria Coquet
This year I’ve put in place a no-dig raised bed in my garden where I’m currently growing courgette, french beans and peas (trained to go up the current trees), squash, different tomatoes, rocket, radishes, carrots, spinach, beetroot, kale, chard and lettuce. Between these vegetables I planted different companion plants such as calendulas and nasturtium to keep pests at bay and attract pollinators. The raised bed was filled with peat-free compost and is watered with rain water which I collect in a water butt and various buckets when it’s full. Asides from the raised bed, I mow the lawn a maximum of once a month to encourage different weeds and bugs to come to the garden. Since doing this, not only the grass has been thriving but I’ve gotten lots of different wild flowers which are a delight. I’ve dug a little hole where I’ve inserted a shallow bowl which I use as a small pond. Though this was initially put in place to attract frogs and toads to help with snails and slugs, due to the current fences in my garden, I haven’t seen any of these around yet. However, after a month of having it I noticed different insects which I hadn’t seen before in my garden such as centipedes, dragon flies and different beetles.
Nominated by Ange Guisso
A group of residents on Spurgeon Estate has been looking after the main green space on the estate for just over 2 years now. The area consists of an upper level kitchen garden and a lower level woodland garden. One of the first things we decided back in April 2019 was to stop the spraying of pesticides anywhere in the garden and the positive impact this has made has become overwhelmingly clear. It’s as if the whole area has grown and sprung back to life after being kept down for many years. We do not use any chemicals to deal with weeds or pests in our garden. Partly due to the use of pesticides the soil in the garden isn’t very good, but this poor quality makes it the perfect place for wildflowers. Now we have long banks of a variety of wildflowers which flower almost all year round and in spring and summer are constantly buzzing with bees, butterflies and other insects. We now come across worms in the soil on a regular basis, have fungi growing in some dark corners and residents keep mentioning that they hear much more birdsong these days. One resident even told us she had seen bats in the garden. Last autumn we put up bird boxes and bee hotels in the woodland garden to further support the wildlife on our estate. We chose a variety of bird boxes to suit the blue tits and robins that we regularly see and hear in the garden. As part of our aim to make the whole estate more wildlife-friendly, this spring we had a living roof installed on a long row of garages along Guildford Road. This formerly dead and unused space is now a haven for all sorts of wildlife; it provides additional food and nesting material for birds and is a beautiful sight for residents. As well as having two large compost bins in the woodland garden for our green waste, we’ve also set up six aerobins across the estate for garden and kitchen waste for all residents to use. This means residents no longer have to put food waste in the main bins and very soon we should have fresh compost to improve the soil in the garden. We also gather the sticks from the trees which can’t go in the compost bins into large piles in the corners of the woodland garden as wildlife habitats; these have made a cozy home for some lucky foxes and hopefully smaller creatures find shelter there too. Between the upper and lower level of our garden is a long wall which used to be completely bare; we decided this would be a perfect place for a hedge to create additional shelter for wildlife. We applied to the Woodland Trust for an Urban Harvest collection and planted a mixed hedge with varieties that produce berries and nuts to also provide food for birds. Our garden is constantly transforming and we’re always looking for new ways to encourage wildlife and to expand this across the estate. We’re looking into creating a wildlife corridor including two parklets with seating areas that would run along South Lambeth Road, and we think we’ve found a solution to safely install a wildlife pond in the woodland garden.
Nominated by Nicola Desmond
Cottington Community Garden has always encouraged biodiversity by installing a bug hotel, a pond, 2 loggeries, a wild area of the garden and lots of pollinator friendly plants from early spring to late autumn. In late 2020 two local residents identified over 14 species of birds over one week including; Eurasian Wren, Sparrow, Eurasian Blue Tit, Great Tit, European Gold Finch, Common Blackbird, Song Thrush, Eurasian Jay, Magpie, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, European Robin, Carrion Crow and Kestrel. Other wildlife and species include; bees, butterflies, dragon flies, ladybirds, other insects, foxes, squirrels as well as fungi, Trees and plants. We saw our first stag beetle in the garden this month. Members of the Community Garden have encouraged the CCRMO in which we sit to embrace biodiversity as a whole estate and we now have a ‘Biodiversity and Climate Action Plan’ for the the whole estate. This includes relaxing mowing on the estate, the installation of SUDS, green roofs, more green roof bike shelters, usung WhattsApp Give & Take Group to share unwanted food, clothes and household items and lots more. We are actively looking for funding to bring our bigger dreams to fruition.
Nominated by Robert Finlay
By its very name, the West Norwood bus station Bzz Garden has biodiversity central to its heart and soul. Everything is geared to its wildlife. The garden arose seven years ago from a narrow ribbon of wasteland wrapping around half of the massive bus garage, within West Norwood’s industrial belt, immersed in heavy traffic. The site had been regularly fly-tipped and sprayed with pesticides to control the scant vegetation which dared to appear. The ground was otherwise biologically sterile. The visionaries that were the volunteers at the time provided the framework of this incredible garden. It has been built on since and nurtured to make it the temple of biodiversity and sustainability it is today. The garden is divided into three areas: The ornamental section, adjacent to the bus station entrance on Ernest Avenue, and curving around to the lower part of Knight’s Hill, is packed with insect and bird friendly perennials, shrubs, grasses, and some so-called “weeds”. These are all drought tolerant, with a vast mix of flowers, seeds and berries and a wide variety of leaf forms, textures and colours – a feast of sights, habitats and wildlife activity, whatever the season! Further up Knight’s Hill is the orchard, including cherry, plum, apple, pear, and the rather mysterious shaped medlar, quite medieval in all respects! The trees sit grandly in the long grasses, wildflowers and perennials at their feet, support for the pollinators which feast on the spring blossoms, and perfect habitat for the predatory insects like ladybirds and hoverflies which protect the trees from aphids and the like. And if the long grasses aren’t enough to keep the insects happy, then at the Rothschild Street end of the orchard there is the low-budget/affordable housing development; the Bug Hotel, recently constructed and kitted out and already hosting long term residents. This is bumper year for the orchard – all the trees are heaving, perfect fodder for the wildlife, human and animal alike, right now blackbirds feast on the almost ripe cherries. Further around in Rothschild Street is the mixed garden. The backdrop is the long, two storey high south-facing brick wall of the bus garage, providing a warm microclimate for the narrow garden below. This part is sectioned: the first is mostly British native hedge trees and shrubs including blackthorn, wild rose, elderberry, and hazel, all of interest to birds and insects with their blossom and fruits. Under the hedge is an informal wood pile of decaying wood – bits of trees that have died in the garden, or we have rescued in our wanderings, or left by residents, all great homes for even more invertebrates. Then the soft fruit section of raspberries, currants, and gooseberries. Next the wildflower and herb sections, full of sages and catmint, interplanted with a plum, an apple and a young peach tree, which has already formed ten peaches this season. Clambering up the wall behind, in this middle area, hops snake about, and below there are small areas for tomatoes, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb, kale and chard in pots, with rocket, poppies, strawberries, more wildflowers, and a few giant Cardoons scattered about. The only order here is the wall clothed in hops, the wood chip path, and a sunken baby bath filled with water to provide water for our insects, and hopefully soon a home to even more wildlife. And finally, the heart of any garden, the composting area! All our garden “waste“ comes here to be turned into black gold, the stuff driving all this growth, the heaps heaving with their own biodiversity. Local residents bring their garden waste, and the bakery opposite us, their various peelings. Sunday mornings are our usual work sessions for our regular volunteers. Each visit there are new resident insects which we try to identify and show the passing public, some of whom regularly stop to chat and say how much they love the garden, their kids oogling the latest odd creature we have found, or helping themselves to currants or strawberries, soon the cherries, if the blackbirds don’t get them all first… then the plums… an evolving feast! No longer the sterile, poisoned waste land – instead, powerfully regenerated, the bzzz of the Bzz Garden rises, rather, explodes, like the Phoenix! Pictures: Bumble bee at the Bus Station entrance Ladybird Peacock butterfly caterpillars munching nettles Orchard and Bug Hotel Rothschild Garden squeezed within industry Some of the workers