The Walled Gardens of Cannington and the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Festival of Wildlife is to return on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May. The Festival celebrates the work of the Somerset Wildlife Trust and has staff on-hand to answer any questions.
Wildlife and sustainable practices are an important factor in how the Gardens operate. Many improvements have been made to make the Gardens more eco-friendly, and in turn support wildlife. For example, the Gardens have ceased using neonicotinoid pesticides, linked to the decline in bee numbers.
The use of other synthetic pesticides have been minimised, using alternative pest and disease control methods, including the introduction of beneficial insects. Peat free compost is also used for plants; the Gardens are watered from a bore hole, and bedding plants are grown in bio-degradable pots, which allows them to be planted straight into the ground, therefore reducing the amount of plastic being sent to land-fill.
Another recent addition to the Gardens is a butterfly planter, donated by Woodblocx, which has been designed with the College’s Horticulture students and the Butterfly Conservation charity, to attract the species. Students, staff and Cannington in Bloom committee members also cleared and planted a native wildflower area in the Gardens, which will help feed pollinators in the spring. The group then went to work creating bug hotels to provide winter habitats for insects and small animals such as toads and hedgehogs, using recycled materials foraged from around the College’s Cannington Centre.
Alan Hold from Butterfly Conservation said, “I am delighted the planter has been placed in the Cannington Walled Gardens in support of the important work Butterfly Conservation carries out. The garden staff will ensure that a carefully planned planting scheme will provide a colourful display of plants, supplying essential nectar for a range of insects, from early spring to late summer. It is hoped that visitors to the gardens will be encouraged to include many of the plants displayed in the planter in their own gardens, so that they can enjoy the delight of visiting butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.”
The Gardens are also hoping to create a hedgehog colony, taking in displaced hedgehogs from the local animal charity Secret World Wildlife Rescue. The Gardens offer a perfect habitat for hedgehogs as there are plenty of grubs, beetles and insects for them to eat and cover for hibernation.