Wildlife Gardeners Going Wild for Worms!

© Carol Sheppard

The hunt is on for Surrey’s wildest gardeners and this year the theme is worms!

To launch its Wildlife Garden Awards 2018, Surrey Wildlife Trust has once again teamed up with Squire’s Garden Centres. The competition is free to enter and open to any type of garden – no matter what size.

“The humble worm is so important for our soil and for wildlife - it spends its life beneath our feet, mixing the soil, allowing it to breathe, recycling decaying plants and enriching the earth,” said Dawn Fielding, the Trust’s Wildlife Gardening Officer.

“Worms are the gardener’s best friend and are essential food for other wildlife such as hedgehogs, birds and toads that help keep unwanted pests at bay. In fact Charles Darwin called worms the most important animal in the history of the world!”

The Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards 2018 are part of The Wildlife Trusts’ ‘Wild About Gardens’ campaign. Entrants are being asked to help worms by creating compost heaps, feeding the soil with organic matter and reducing hard surfacing like paving, to make way for more wriggly visitors.

Here are the Trust’s top five wonderful worm facts:

· The UK has 29 different species of worm.

· A worm can eat its own weight in soil in one day.

· Cutting a worm in half doesn’t give you two worms – just one dead worm!

· Worms don’t have eyes but find their way by sensing light and soil vibrations.

· Worms absorb oxygen through their skin.

Last year’s Wildlife Garden Awards attracted nearly 150 entries from individual gardeners, schools, businesses and community groups. Judges were impressed by a wide range of wildlife-friendly features including bee hives, ponds, hedgehog hotels and even patches of nettles!

“Wildlife that was once common in our gardens, such as hedgehogs and bees, are now under serious threat,” added Dawn. “Surrey’s gardens make up around 12% of the county’s landscape and if we all make space for nature where we live and work, it will give wildlife a huge helping hand.”

The wildlife gardening competition is open from April 1 until the end of July 2018 and the best gardens will win a £50 Squire’s Garden Centres 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.  The competition is open to individuals, schools and businesses.

Sarah Squire, deputy chairman at Squire’s Garden Centres, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Surrey Wildlife Trust to encourage more wildlife into our gardens. There are many simple ways that you can do this, whether it’s feeding the birds, making a log pile for insects, adding a pond or birdbath, and of course growing flowers for pollinators.

“At Squire’s Garden Centres we highlight plants that will attract wildlife to your garden, making it easy for you to choose plants that both look great and will appeal to native wildlife. Make sure that you have a succession of plants in flower throughout spring, summer and autumn, such as Asters, Poppies, Alliums, Roses, Lavender and Buddleia, and you will encourage lots of beautiful and beneficial birds, bees, butterflies and insects into your garden.”

If you become a member of the Trust before April 15th, you can get a FREE book – ‘The Wildlife Gardener’ by Kate Bradbury - a beautiful illustrated guide to gardening for nature.

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Books available while stocks last!

The Trust has created a ‘Wildlife Gardening Top Tips video’, with the help of Relevant Films, which is packed with ideas and inspiration to help make your garden a haven for nature.

More about wildlife gardening