Tag Archives: Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards

Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards

I had the pleasure of attending the Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards this afternoon, and winning the ‘Small private gardens’ category. Dawn Fielding, the Surrey Wildlife Trust Community Engagement Officer, gave a short talk explaining the importance of gardens for wildlife, and the pressure wildlife in Surrey is under.

Headlines from the State of Surrey's Nature report, 2017
Headlines from the State of Surrey’s Nature report, 2017

23% of Surrey’s species are extinct or under threat. Gardens are a big opportunity to help our wildlife. They make up 12% of the land area of the county – more than nature reserves, so have the potential to make an impact.

The awards recognised school gardens, community gardens, business grounds and private gardens that are havens for wildlife. This year there were 145 entries, with around half achieving gold award level, so I’m thrilled our garden has come top in its category (for the second time!).

My certificate and plaque
My certificate and plaque

It was very interesting to hear and see pictures of what others are doing in their gardens, and fascinating to look around the Therapy Garden  (which won the Community Garden Category).

Neither Dr C nor I are particularly green-fingered, nor do we have massive amounts of time to spend gardening, but we do like the occasional Womble project (see the ‘How to‘ section for some examples).  I like to think that if we can do it in our little garden, anyone can.

Nice as the award is, the real reward for wildlife gardening is watching the wildlife make use of the habitat, shelter and food we provide.

Robin with worms

 

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Victory in the Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards!

I have an award-winning garden! I never thought I’d end up saying that, and anyone who could see it now would be equally surprised. But it’s true – the garden been awarded a Gold Award in the inaugral Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards. Not only that: it came top in the small private garden category. I officially have the best small private wildlife garden in Surrey!

Suffice to say, the award is not for the decorative appeal of the borders, or the precision neatness of the lawn. Nor is it for the volume of fruit and veg I get from the garden (which is just as well, as the wildlife seems to munch most of that before I can get hold of it). To look at, my garden’s nothing special; small and scruffy. But it does have quite a lot of wildlife-friendly features, which in turn means there’s also quite a lot of wildlife.

Today I got an early Christmas present, as Dawn Fielding from Surrey Wildlife Trust dropped round my prize – a signed book on a Surrey garden’s natural history, a wildlife gardening information pack, some notecards and a calendar. I’m looking forward to reading/using it all – the wildlife gardening information pack looks like it’s got some good new ideas to try out, and the book looks inspiring.

My prize for winning the Surrey Wildlife Garden award for best small private garden
My prize for winning the Surrey Wildlife Garden award for best small private garden

Of course, to me the most exciting prize from having a wildlife-friendly garden is seeing the wildlife enjoy it. It was so satisfying when we found the first frog in our pond, just weeks after we created it. And one of my most memorable wildlife experiences of this year was when we were sitting out in the garden, and a hedgehog walked right past our toes, unaware or unconcerned by our presence. Having hoglets born in the hedgehog house we made was fantastic – thinking that our efforts could help these creatures really gives me a buzz.

Hoglet C (Ericnaceous)
Hoglet C (Ericnaceous)

I think the purpose of the awards was to encourage people to think about how they can make their gardens more wildlife-friendly. Hopefully our garden shows that you don’t need a big garden to make a difference, and you certainly don’t need green fingers, or to put in lots of time each week.

It also spurs me on to think about next year – what can we do to make the garden even more wildlife friendly? Well, I have a few ideas, and my prize will help me identify a few more. I feel a new challenge coming on… I’m secretly very competitive, so intend to give holding onto my crown my best shot. Why not take me on, if you live in Surrey? The awards process will open in April next year, so there’s plenty of time for a few wildlife-friendly gardening projects before then… The Wild About Gardens website has lots of ideas.