Biosphere 2020 Nature Award Winners Gardeners. In 2020, more than 200 people made a Pledge for Nature on the North Devon Biosphere Pledge Map. To recognise and celebrate some of these fantastic actions for nature the Pledge for Nature steering committee have chosen some of their favourite pledges to be nominated for an award. This blog post is about the top 3 gardener's pledges. Header Image: Jay amongst the daisies in Tim and Lindsay Pryor's garden
We had a brilliant selection of pledges for people making bug havens, helping hedgehogs and creating wildflower patches in their gardens.
WINNERS: TIM AND LINDSAY PRYOR FROM WEST YELLAND
Their pledge to let a corner go wild: “We have a small 3/4 acre woodland garden that sits near the Taw and Torridge Estuary. My wife and I have worked hard over the past few years to try and re-establish the woodland habitat that we are so fortunate to look after and have, over the last year, really started to see the benefits of this. We have been actively encouraging the moss to re-establish throughout the woodland along with ferns and wildflowers. Alongside areas of moss, we have left areas of long grass untouched throughout the Spring and Summer as well as allowing wild areas to remain as such including two hedgerows full of brambles and blackthorn. As well as leaf piles and rotting wood, we have created various wildlife corridors throughout the garden which are well used by our wildlife,especially as these corridors also allow access to our bog areas, two ponds as well as the hedgerows. We have seen a growth both in the amount of wildlife we are seeing but also in the regeneration of many woodland plants,which have been waiting for their opportunity to make an appearance.We now have a plethora of wild flowers, birds and animals and we hope to attract even more.Our newest additions are newts and we already have slow worms, pygmy shrews,woodland mice, frogs, toads and a huge collection of birds including Bullfinches, long tailed tits, blackcaps and a treecreeper!”
TWO OTHER HIGHLY COMMENDED IN OUR GARDEN AWARDS WERE:
- Vicki in Ilfracombe
“We have a more natural area at the bottom of our garden that I have sown with wildflowers in part and also built a hedgehog home with my son. It is a lovely area to sit around a fire pit and toast marshmallows and listen to the birds.”
- Paul Madgett in Braunton
Used pallets left after building materials were delivered to create a large bug haven. He has also allowed a lawned area to grow long through the summer, cut late in summer, allowed a shrubby area to "look after itself" and set aside a small cultivated patch for wild flowers.
Thank you to Paul who has provide the below photos and following details:
We had a lot of building work done during 2019, with a large skip in the drive for several months - however, I have always had a policy of "waste not, want not"(probably inherited from previous generations, and the product of growing up in the post-war austerity period), thus a lot of the materials were salvaged by me, stored in the garage and behind the shed. We have a mixed shrubbery in one corner of the front garden, with a small open area in the middle. There was already a large stone and wood pile here, intended as an invertebrate/small mammal/herptile refuge. Thus the pallets were used,along with a stack of brushwood from hazel trimmings from the back garden, to provide further habitat- hoping this could also provide a refuge /nesting-place / hibernation site for small birds such as Wrens and mammals such as Hedgehogs (we hadn't seen the latter in the garden for some years).This area, despite being close to the road, is not visible from the rest of the garden or the pavement, and is virtually undisturbed by we humans.Although not a "pretty structure",the animals don't mind this, and we hardly see it unless we push our way round by the fence at the back. By later in the summer the vegetation around was already masking the"raw" features. I'm pretty certain that Wrens did nest in the brash under one of the pallets, and we have started seeing the characteristic droppings of Hedgehogs around the garden once more - possibly one is using this new habitat for hibernation now? We have a thriving population of Slow-worms in the garden - they breed regularly in one of the 4 compost bins behind the shed - this new habitat will provide them with further"hiding-places"and feeding opportunities on the snails and other invertebrates using this area.
One area of the back garden, running around the side of the house, was left to lawn (apart from a greenhouse added there), with a few fruit trees added. After establishing daffodils in part of this, we needed to leave those leaves to stock up the bulbs again for the following year, so the grass around them grew long - and came up with an interesting mix of species.Eventually we decided to leave this for much of the summer, establishing one or two extra plants such as knapweed.
However, the fertility was rather high (this had once been part of the kitchen garden of the"big house next door", from the late 1870s to early 1960s). Thus the grass grew rather "rank";this suited grasshoppers and some butterflies(browns and blues), as well as slow-worms - but the smaller wild flowering plants were overwhelmed. We have been gradually reducing the fertility by removing the grass cuttings when it is mowed / strimmed down in late summer, and have attempted (with limited success)to weaken the grasses by sowing in seeds of yellow rattle.
The front lawns, by contrast, seem to have pretty low fertility to start with, then a few years ago after we had been away on holiday for a couple of weeks in mid-summer we returned to find the lawns a carpet of purple: flowers of Self-Heal. Also a spike that I recognised as an orchid trying to develop... So we put a little fence around that orchid and although it didn't flower that year, it came up again the next,and the next, and eventually had gained enough"strength" to actually flower. Then Plantlife had their lawn challenge for pollinators - and I persuaded Ro (wife)not to mow the front lawn at all until late in the summer, except for a narrow pathway. A scattering of Yellow Rattle seeds has taken well in this front lawn, some parts of which were dominated last summer by White Clover, others by Catsear - but accompanied by a dozen or more other flowers plus a variety of grasses and small sedges. Under this is a dense "under-storey" of mosses, several patches of dog-lichens, and in the late summer and autumn a variety of fungi, including several species of Wax-Cap.
Mowing didn't take place till very late in the summer -and was accomplished with a single cut, the growth not being rank but relatively sparse. Meanwhile we have enjoyeda wide variety of flowers through the season, and a good mix of seeding grasses, the welcome sound of grasshoppers and buzzing of dozens of bees. A week or two after mowing I took some "vertical air photos" from a height of a foot or two - a huge variety of seedling and young plants, grasses being noticeable for their relative paucity.
"No Mow" has saved work (and saved electricity for running the mower!) yet given us a great amount of pleasure, and I am sure has helped the invertebrate population to thrive.
Mar 1, 2021
Every month we like to review the brilliant pledges that people have made as well as what look wildlife and nature to look out for. This month we have a special guest writer, Sally Vergette a farmer from Highampton has written about the efforts they have made on their farm to make it more wildlife friendly.
Feb 3, 2021
A summary of the nature related events happening across North Devon in February, March and April. This page will be updated regularly. Photo: A Bee's View, the Gaia Trust
2020 Award Winners Community Champions
Jan 30, 2021
Over the past year there have been many brilliant people in the North Devon Biosphere who have led on brilliant initiatives for nature and wildlife in their local area. From leading community group meetings, creating habitats and spreading the word we are thankful to these people for stepping up and supporting others.
2020 Award Winner Farmers
Jan 29, 2021
A large proportion of land in the Biosphere is farmland so we always love to hear of farmers and landowners who are making space for nature. This could include installing a barn owl or kestrel nest box, letting your hedges grow to be big and bushy, planting trees, looking after your soil health or creating a small pond. Photo: Herbal ley
To Our Biosphere
Make Space for Nature
More Community Action
Protect North Devon's Future