Homes for wildlife at Heligan

Posted: Tuesday 13 August 2013
by Kate Bradbury

In Cornwall I visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan. It's one of my favourite gardens to visit.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

In Cornwall I visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan. It's one of my favourite gardens to visit. Not only is it steeped in history (the estate was managed until 1914, when its workers left to fight the Great War and the gardens fell into disrepair), but it has a fantastic connection with wildlife. Neglected and forgotten for 75 years (it was rediscovered in 1990 and opened to the public in 1992), wilderness and wildlife took hold, and the estate is now sensitively managed to ensure it remains a home for wildlife.

I was keen to see the efforts gardeners at Heligan had made to attract wildlife to the estate. Heligan has a dedicated wildlife team. As well as the sensitive management of ancient woodland, hay meadows, grazed pasture and wetlands to encourage different species, there are also provisions in the gardens. There are hundreds of bird boxes, several ponds where insects and amphibians flourish, and a pictorial meadow of cornfield annuals alive with bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

Even in the walled vegetable garden - where more than 200 varieties of fruit and veg are grown in homage to the gardeners lost to the Great War - wildlife is encouraged. Dahlias and other flowers are planted to attract beneficial insects to pollinate the crops and keep down numbers of pests. Solitary bees don’t have a long journey to the fruit blossom in spring - the walls are dotted with their nest holes, and they have a bee hotel.

Wildlife is an intrinsic part of Heligan, but also in our own gardens. Most gardens are already home to a myriad of different species, but by making a few changes - by growing more plants for pollinators, putting up a bird box, digging a pond - we can help create even more space for wildlife to feed, breed and survive.

On the RSPB Giving Nature a Home microsite, you can download a guide to attracting wildlife to your own garden. You don’t need a huge estate like Heligan - even a window box planted with nectar-rich flowers can provide food for bees and butterflies, and a container pond can provide a breeding ground for dragonflies. Anything you do will make a difference. Together we can help create more homes for wildlife.

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Talkback: Homes for wildlife at Heligan
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oldchippy 17/08/2013 at 17:51

There's a large patch of thistles over the park and this week they have been in flower,the scent was heavenly and they were covered in insect's,not quite Heligan I know.

Cheerybeth 30/08/2013 at 08:40

If you follow the 'Georgian Ride' at Heligan they are constructing an amazing insect hotel. It has lots of different sections designed to attract a range of creatures and it looks as though it will be backed by a grassy bank so that is disappears into the woodland. I wish I lived nearer so we could revisit and see it once the area has matured.