Surrey Wildlife Trust held its annual Wildlife Garden of the Year Awards ceremony at Nower Wood, near Leatherhead, on 21stSeptember to celebrate the many wonderful and innovative ways Surrey schools and residents are looking after wildlife in their gardens. With gardens in Surrey making up more than 12% of the entire county, the awards are to encourage people to include wildlife friendly features into their gardens.
Bee hives, wildlife ponds, compost heaps, ladybird and bug houses and planting native hedgerows were just some of the wildlife-friendly features that impressed the judges. There were 134 entries, with double the number of schools entering this year, and more people achieving the top gold award standard.
Sue Edwards, education and engagement manager at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said:
‘It is wonderful to see conservation in action, not just in nature reserves, but in people’s back gardens. Everyone needs to be responsible for taking action for wildlife so we can reconnect wildlife populations across the landscape. It is also fantastic that school grounds are being used more for outdoor learning, with wildlife gardening and vegetable growing.’
Lesley Hadcroft, winner of the medium garden award, involved all her neighbours in making her road hedgehog friendly and Zygie Davies, winner of the large private garden, among many other features left her lawn uncut to attract many more butterflies and insects. Susan Renaud, winner of the small garden award, introduced a wildlife pond and fountain which also helped to minimise nearby road noise.
Frimley Church of England Junior School celebrated its 150 year anniversary by creating a new wildlife pond in May, which is already full of damselflies and dragonflies. Backing onto the pond is a large wildflower bank and the school is planning to plant a native hedgerow this winter.
Trish Everett, gardener at Frimley Church of England Junior School, Frimley said:
‘We run a lunchtime gardening club once a week and a few of the children are eco councillors. It’s fantastic to see the children’s enthusiasm since we introduced the wildlife pond. They can’t wait to see the new wildlife which appears in the pond every day and we now have up to 20 children in our gardening club. We have also installed nest boxes and bat boxes donated by Blackwater Valley Trust and planted trees donated by the Woodland Trust.’
The judges were looking for a range of habitats to attract a greater diversity of wildlife. Ponds, fruit trees, herbs, flowers throughout the seasons, hedges and trees, long grass and log piles – variety is definitely the spice of life for wildlife.
The eight over-all winners in each category are:
Frimley Church of England Junior School, Frimley
|Private Gardens||(Large) Zygie Davies, Lightwater
(Medium) Lesley Hadcroft, Frimley
(Small) Susan Renaud, Ripley
|Community Garden||Patchworking Garden Project, Dorking|
All entrants whose garden qualified received a bronze, silver or gold certificate declaring their garden to be officially a wildlife haven. Gold award winners were also presented with a special commemorative plaque and the best gardens won a £50 Squire’s Garden Centres voucher.
Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres, which sponsored the competition said:
“We are keen to encourage people to attract more wildlife into their gardens, so it was great to be able to work closely with Surrey Wildlife Trust and discover the diverse and interesting ways that people are doing this. The competition winners included some really great wildlife-friendly features such as ponds, bug houses, hedgerows, and of course beautiful plants that will attract wildlife throughout the year. Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who entered this fantastic competition.”
The Wildlife Garden Award 2018 is part of the Trust’s ‘Wild About Gardens’ campaign, working with the RHS to encourage wildlife friendly gardening. It forms part the Trust’s vision for a ‘Living Landscape’, which aims to provide a network of natural habitats so that wildlife can thrive and move across our landscape.