The Hunt is on for Surrey’s Wildest Gardeners!

Thursday 12th May 2016

Surrey Wildlife Trust has joined forces with Squire’s Garden Centres to launch this year’s Surrey Wildlife Garden Award 2016. It’s free to enter and open to any type of garden in Surrey - regardless of size.

“You don’t need a big garden to take part,” said the Trust’s Wildlife Gardening Officer Dawn Fielding. “Balconies, allotments, front gardens, schools and business grounds can all be fantastic havens for wildlife.”

But sadly wildlife is being pushed out of Surrey’s gardens, as many gardeners become less tolerant of weeds - using more pesticides and covering the ground with decking, gravel and patios.

Wildlife that was once common in our backyards in now under serious threat. The British bee population has fallen by a third since 2007. In the last 10 years hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30% - they’re disappearing from our landscape as fast as tigers are worldwide. Many of our urban birds are also in decline - including the house sparrow and swift.

“Gardens are on the front line of our battle to save nature,” added Dawn. “They provide stepping stones throughout our towns and villages so that wildlife can move around. All gardens can be adapted in some way to make space for nature and small changes can make a big difference. ”

There are five award categories:
• Private garden (small, medium & large)
• Balcony/small space
• Community garden/allotment
• School
• Business

The competition is open to all age groups, but organisers are particularly keen to get school children involved this year.

“We want children to go out into their school grounds, get their hands dirty and think about what their school can do for wildlife, “ said Dawn. “You don’t need a big dedicated wildlife garden to take part - hedgerows, flower beds, small ponds and the boundaries of playing fields can all be fantastic havens for nature in schools.

“All schools can make space for nature and small changes can make a big difference. Making your school gardens a little bit wilder brings amazing rewards – not just for wildlife, but also for pupils. Children who engage with nature are happier, healthier and more creative – for some it can have a life-changing impact. ”

Last year’s winner was Lorraine School in Camberley, which has a wonderful wildlife garden run by volunteer gardener Victor Ludkin. Its garden included bug homes, bird houses, log piles, a pond, a wildflower meadow, fruit trees and a reptile hibernaculum.

The best wildlife friendly spaces offer food, water, shelter. Here are some tips on how to make your garden a little bit wilder:
• Plant nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies and bees
• Make a small pond or water feature to create a wildlife haven
• Avoid chemicals and slug pellets
• Create woodpiles for slow worms and invertebrates
• Build a compost heap to recycle your garden waste
• Put up a bird feeder and enjoy watching your new visitors
• Plant native shrubs and trees to provide berries and fruit

The competition is open from now until the end of July 2016 and the best gardens will win a £50 Squire’s Garden Centre voucher. Any entrant whose garden qualifies will receive a bronze, silver or gold certificate declaring that their garden is officially a wildlife haven. Gold award winners will also be presented with a commemorative plaque.

Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman at Squire’s Garden Centres said: “We are delighted to support the Surrey Wildlife Trust, as we believe that it is so important that people encourage wildlife into their gardens. Our recent survey found that 78% of people would create (or have created) a wilderness area in their garden to attract wildlife, which is great news, but there’s clearly more to do.

“We want to inspire people with ideas to encourage and sustain wildlife in their own gardens, which is why at Squire’s you’ll find useful hints and tips around our garden centres. I look forward to seeing photos showing what people have done in their gardens to encourage wildlife, and to presenting prizes to the winners of the Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Gardening Competition.”

The Wildlife Gardening Competition 2016 is part of the Trust’s Wild About Gardens campaign, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. It forms part the Trust’s vision for a ‘Living Landscape’, which aims to provide a network of wildlife friendly refuges to enable wildlife to thrive and move across our landscape.

Enter this year’s Wildlife Gardening competition For further tips on how to turn your garden into a wildlife visit the Wild About Gardens website. Wildlife gardening packs offering a host of good, simple ideas are also available through the Trust’s online shop for £6 each. 

 

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Wildlife gardening, Competition, Surrey Wildlife Garden Award, Wildlife Garden Competition, Wildlife Gardening