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Gardening for Nature

Posted: Tuesday 23rd August 2016 by Communities

SWT Wildlife Garden Award Gold Winner for Medium Gardens 2015

West Surrey Natural History Society invited Community Learning Coordinator Paul Ritchie to share tips about improving gardens and community green spaces for wildlife.

The biggest nature reserve in Surrey is in fact our own gardens

West Surrey NHS was formed to educate people by studying the flora and fauna of Surrey, including promoting and participating in conservation projects. It was therefore highly appropriate for Paul to address the group with two presentations with a wildlife gardening theme.

Firstly he spoke about wildlife gardening generally and we learnt that gardens cover approximately 12% of land in Surrey in addition to the 5% covered by nature reserves. Our gardens therefore represent a significant opportunity to make space for nature as well as benefit people. After we considered the threats to our native plants and animals Paul went onto share ideas about how we can improve our gardens for wildlife by providing more food, water and shelter, as well as changing the methods we use to be more environmentally sensitive.

After a short break for tea, coffee and biscuits and an informal chat with our guest speaker we returned to our seats for his second presentation. Paul introduced us to the Bees Needs Project in Redhill, which aims to make space for nature on council allotments.

So far parks staff, volunteers and contractors have built four raised beds for a communal herb garden, planted a double row native hedge and fruit trees, created one annual and two perennial wildflower strips, and installed a fenced area for honey bee hives. Still to come are homes for wild bumble and solitary bees, as well as a number of events to promote the project.

Paul explained how DEFRA has funded a partnership between Surrey Wildlife Trust, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, YMCA, Surrey bee keepers, stewards and allotment holders. The plan is to improve the communal areas of the allotment at Colesmead in Redhill for wild and domestic bees. It is hoped that allotment groups across Surrey will take up these ideas and create more space for our important wild pollinators.

We had an interesting evening finding out about conservation work taking place elsewhere in Surrey and learning how we can do our bit to help.


Ann Stribley

West Surrey Natural History Society

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