PUBLISHED: 11:15 18 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:11 20 February 2013
Elizabeth Barnett talks to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Information Officer Natalie Rogers together with local landscape and garden specialists from Hambrooks Garden and Landscape Design to find out what we can do...
Elizabeth Barnett talks to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Information Officer Natalie Rogers together with local landscape and garden specialists from Hambrooks Garden and Landscape Design to find out what we can do to make our outside space more habitable for plants and animals
Given the chance most of us will want to do more to protect our local wildlife and with the green areas surrounding our cities becoming more and more developed, theres no time like the present.
Forty years ago, Hambrooks Garden Design and Landscaping was set up by owner Norman Hambrook initially as a landscaping yard and garden maintenance company in Curdridge. But Norman had a dream to not only provide Hampshire with some beautiful gardens, but to also educate his customers in caring for their outside space and the wildlife that would hopefully be attracted to it.
The original site at Curdridge still remains, but Norman was keen to open up to the general public and purchased the site at Titchfield not only as a way to sell the plants from his nursery but also as an ideal open show room for the design aspect of his company. Kevin Clare is now manager of this site after spending 19 years within the company in various different roles, he says: My mum was a keen gardener and I caught the bug from her I suppose, I would say I am obsessive about it and love the fact that I get to spend all day out in the open among the plants that I find so interesting. Every day is different and its great to be able to offer advice to customers as they wander around gaining inspiration from the several show gardens on display.
These show gardens are what makes Hambrooks so different from any other garden centre, Isaac Hunter is just one of the designers that has experienced great success off the back of his designs and is responsible for the companys most recent award from the Wildlife Trust. He says: Ive designed hundreds of gardens ranging from domestic landscaping to large scale commercial areas and I love that each one can be so different and individual. We first started working with the Wildlife Trust when Natalie invited us to design a garden for their outside space at their Headquarters at Beechcroft House. From then on I started to realise how important attracting wildlife in to your garden was becoming and I knew that this was something that Norman was keen to explore.
Call of the wild
Using regulations and guides provided by the Wildlife Trust, Isaac was able to create and design the perfect wildlife garden aimed at attracting as many local animals, birds and insects as possible. He explains: It took a couple of days to actually get the design down on paper and then we spent around four days back in April this year laying everything out and planting.
It is already attracting a lot of local wildlife, we have lots of butterflies and newts in the pond and this will only increase the more it matures. Its great that people can come and take inspiration from what we have created and I hope many others will go on to adapt their gardens in the same way.
Visiting Hambrooks you will see that the Wildlife Garden concept is made up of two adjacent gardens, The Wildlife Water Garden and The Secret Garden both of which include features such as mature shrubs and hedges, ponds, nectar rich plants and boggy areas to entice in animals and insects. Norman could not be prouder of what his team has achieved saying: Receiving this award for one of our show gardens is a great accolade for us and is an important step towards our aim to help raise awareness of the ecological importance of wildlife gardens to our customers. It clearly demonstrates how local businesses and charities can work together to find common causes that benefit not only the local community, but also help to raise awareness of issues that are of national and global importance.
Create your own
The award received by the garden at Hambrooks is something that is open for anyone to win. Since Natalie launched the scheme in November 2009, she has had a great deal of interest from local schools and businesses, but is now really keen to get the general public involved so that they too can proudly display the Wildlife Trust plaque in their own gardens. Talking about the scheme she says: You dont have to have sprawling landscapes to create a wildlife garden, any outside space can become a habitat for our local plants and animals. The award is based on a list of features and objectives, we have a table of 22 different criteria that combined will make the perfect wildlife garden. Out of the four categories, Food, Water, Shelter and Sustainability we ask that 10 or more of the criteria are fulfilled making sure at least two features from each category are included in your garden. Once you feel you have reached as far as your garden will allow you, then you can achieve the Wildlife Friendly Garden Award.
This scheme is an excellent way to make children aware of how to protect the wildlife and would be a fantastic thing to work on as a family, the plaque that you receive at the end means that you can show off your recognition for all the hard work you have put in to your garden and will hopefully entice others to transform their outside space as well. Next year the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary and are hoping to hold open garden events throughout the year so that people can showcase their gardens to the general public.
What can you do
Buy a bird feeder There are so many different types to choose from and if you dont have any outside space then try the window bird feeder from the RSPB, it sticks on to the outside of your window so all you have to do is keep topping it up.
Create a log pile Deadwood is an extremely efficient shelter for a whole host of animals and will certainly provide a safe space for bees, wasps and beetles to build their nests.
Water, water, water Invest in a water butt to collect rainwater and prevent you from wasting the water from your tap.
Stay safe Using pesticides can really damage wildlife habitats and although the very sight of a slug can cause havoc amongst your seedlings, there are other ways to ensure your newly laid plants have time to grow.