Jo’s BBC Springwatch Garden at Hampton Court shows how small changes can have a big impact and provide vital support for wildlife. Photos by Rachel Warne.
Recent research shows that private gardens in Britain cover an area bigger than all of the country’s nature reserves combined and could offer crucial resources for wildlife.
Working with wildlife gardener Kate Bradbury, Jo’s garden showed visitors how they can re-wild their gardens and take steps to halt the decline of the UK’s wildlife population, using a range of practical design elements.
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.
“I want to encourage people to come together in their communities to chat about their gardens, discuss how they can potentially work together and foster a sense of community in people, as well as supporting wildlife. Gardening is a great way to open a conversation with your neighbours and having good relationships and getting outdoors can boost our health and wellbeing – a win-win as far I am concerned.”
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.
The second garden is a lawn with daisies and clover forms the central garden ideal for families. Curved bends create a natural feel and a dry-stone bench left without a coating will encourage bugs to live and nest amongst its gaps.
Meanwhile, behind the seating area there is a curved palisade inspired by Kate Bradbury’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.