A garden reminding us of the importance of gardens for the nation’s wildlife will be unveiled at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (1 – 7 July). The BBC Springwatch Garden designed by award-winning designer Jo Thompson, working alongside wildlife gardener and writer Kate Bradbury, hopes to encourage the nation to turn their gardens into nature reserves.
Recent research indicates that private gardens in Britain cover an area bigger than all the country’s national nature reserves combined. Whilst individual gardens may be small, when combined they create vital links between urban nature and the wider countryside, offering crucial resources for wildlife now and in the future.
The garden will show how visitors can re-wild their gardens and take steps to halt the decline of the UK’s wildlife population. There will be a range of practical design elements showcasing how visitors can make small changes to attract different species into their outdoor spaces.
Three distinct spaces will represent gardens belonging to different neighbours, each featuring their own characteristics and key elements to encourage wildlife, offering shelters made from natural materials and a range of plants for pollinators alongside herbs, vegetable and fruiting bushes.
The first garden, owned by an older garden lover who isn’t able to garden as much as they used to, offers a cottage feel with untamed and wilder planting full of nettles providing the perfect habitat for wildlife. There will also be log piles for beetles and a nestled bench to sit and watch the birds at the bird feeder and bath.
A lawn with daisies and clover forms the central garden ideal for families. A curved dry-stone bench will encourage bugs to live and nest amongst its gaps. Behind the seating area there is a curved palisade inspired by Kate’s own summerhouse and a pond trickles as a stream through into the next neighbour’s garden.
Belonging to a younger couple, the third garden features formal perennial planting rising from wildflower turf. Formal topiary punctuates the space as a smart Belgian paver terrace sits into a gentle slope at the end providing an area to relax, while smart timber insect hotels are situated along its border.
Key to the design is wildlife corridors which allow insects, birds and mammals to travel from garden to garden in search of food and shelter to help our ever fragile species survive and thrive. Not only does the lack of hard division between the gardens promote the idea of pathways for wildlife but also promotes the notion of working together for our environment and wildlife.
Jo Thompson said:
“I’m thrilled to be working alongside the Springwatch team to create a garden that promotes the need for all of us to help preserve our endangered species.
“I hope the garden will inspire visitors as it highlights the notion of urban wildlife corridors and other elements we can include in our gardens to help wildlife thrive.”