When I began gardening back in 2007, after having been able to retire early, I can honestly say I did not know much about what I was doing, some might say I still don’t! In any event, nearly 15 years on, my small garden in Bishopstone has received recognition in a number of ways. It’s appeared on BBC Gardener’s World and Good Morning Britain, won Best Small Garden in the UK back in 2012 with Garden News, was a finalist in the Daily Mail national garden competition that year too and a finalist in the BBC Gardener’s World magazine competition in 2018, not bad for a keen amateur. The garden has featured in press and media across the world too. We also open to the public and have seen over 21,000 visitors, with wonderful 5* reviews on TripAdvisor. More importantly we have raised a staggering £152,000 for charity, almost £100K of that for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Supporting wildlife was really not on my radar screen when I made those first changes to my garden back in 2007. I just set out to create a space that I and my partner, not to mention our dog at the time, Albert could enjoy. I clearly knew it was nice to see butterflies and bees in the garden but really did not really comprehend that there were certain things you could do to encourage them to visit your plot. I’m guessing most would be gardeners don’t intentionally plan any specific wildlife friendly interventions, but probably find that it just happens. Well, this was certainly the case as far as Driftwood was concerned! I’m guessing that this will resonate with a lot of people reading this, as it can sometimes seem like a daunting task to create a ‘wilder’ garden.
That all said, I think the three most popular elements of summer wildlife seen in my garden are butterflies, bees and frogs and toads around the small pond! There are dragonflies at times too and I have to mention the number of birds in the garden year-round, many nesting in the hedgerows and ivy on either side of the plot.
So, without actually realising it, establishing good, tall hedging on all sides of the garden created a number of “bird hotels” loved by wrens, robins and sparrows in the main with a few blue tits. One of the most eye-catching shrubs, located behind the pond is a stunning buddleja called Buzz Magenta, it transpires these beautiful flowers are also real magnets for butterflies. I’ve now got 4 different buddleja shrubs planted alongside too, which look magnificent with red admirals and cabbage white butterflies adorning the dazzling flowers. Then there are other plants in the garden that attract butterflies, catmint & lavender, lobelia, aubretia, geranium cranesbill and erysimum wallflower.