Wildlife Garden at 'The Crib' South Shropshire
More Garden Pictures
After 12 years creating a
wildlife garden in my native Oxfordshire, I moved to pastures new in 2005.
Gardening on the edge of a very large Oxfordshire village, where my garden
was surrounded by other gardens, was an interesting exercise, and over those
years the wildlife that came to that garden and made its home there was
fantastic - within three years we had attracted 24 species of butterfly.
In Shropshire I was faced with almost a blank canvas. During the 12
years we have been here I have created a beautiful wildlife garden with
wildflower meadows, 'mini-meadows' nectar borders, wildlife ponds, a vegetable plot, a
woodland garden and an orchard.
The original part of the
existing garden at 'The Crib' had two very small flower borders, but otherwise
was simply lawn. However it was blessed with three apple trees
and the mixed native hedge instantly provided a good habitat for a few bird species
and small mammals. A year in the life of this garden, documenting
its creation, maintenance and wildlife, can be found in the
A Year in the Life of a Wildlife Garden. Progress in terms of the wildlife we are attracting
has been rapid - especially regarding the bird and insect life.
Here you can see just some of
the birds, butterflies, moths mammals and other wildlife we have attracted so far.
challenge in this garden is to preserve our fantastic views. In
my Oxfordshire garden the objective was to screen the uglier views
around us to create a protected wildlife haven within a not terribly
attractive area. In Shropshire we have the opposite but enviable
task of including the beautiful surrounding landscape of the South
Shropshire Hills into our garden. The
picture of The Long Garden shows just a glimpse of our view towards the South Shropshire Hills. In the twelve years we have been here we have
made excellent progress towards our aims to create a really wonderful
and attractive wildlife garden, full of interest all year round, that sits happily in
the surrounding landscape. Over time we have sown a large
wildflower meadow and created smaller meadow areas by allowing lawns to grow and adding small wildflower plants. We have
planted a herb border and nectar borders, created two very large
wildlife friendly herbaceous borders with a variety of nectar plants
and grasses, established over 40 fruit trees, created a bog garden
with a winter stream and made a wildlife friendly vegetable garden.
400 native hedging shrubs have also been planted. An existing
small copse, where we have located our Teaching Cabin, has been thinned and its original woodland flowers
encouraged to spread. We have laid hedges and sown grass paths. Three
ponds, now teaming with life, have also been created. Our wildlife
visitors continue to grow - the number of butterfly species in
particular has increased tremendously and the birds have risen to 81
species in the garden, including a few national rarities.
Gardening of any kind takes time, and patience is essential, but we
have already made a huge impact.
Garden update last year
2016 was a mild and rather unremarkable year weather-wise here but
there were several new wildlife visitors, especially moths.
Surprisingly we had a new butterfly species - a small heath. I have
been expecting a marbled white as the meadows develop but there has
been no sign yet! The ponds again did very well with huge
numbers of frogs spawning in March but it was in general a poor year
for meadow butterflies especially ringlets and meadow browns. Wall
brown butterflies were still present. The Big Meadow thrived and the
Common Spotted Orchids continue to increase. Again those that had sown
themselves into paths were moved to mini-meadows in other parts of the
garden, and they continue to seed on the living roof on top of the Log
Store. The new small meadow area created around the bee hives in the
Fruit Garden developed well, and again there were huge amounts of soft
fruit here, especially raspberries. We continued to create an area of
scrub and shelter for nesting birds on a north facing bank which was
used last year by a chiff chaff. Perhaps the highlight bird-wise
in 2016 was another successful spotted flycatcher nest on the potting
The mini-meadows that we
create around various areas in the garden were especially successful last
year, as the common spotted orchids make a home wherever they can. Our
plans for 2017 include continuing to develop the woodland garden area in
The Copse and finding more places for spotted flycatchers to nest!
© Text and photographs Jenny Steel