On a recent trip to London I decided to visit the world-famous Regent’s Park. There are several breathtaking gardens in Regent’s Park to enjoy. These include Queen Mary’s Garden, a glorious rose garden, St John’s Lodge Gardens, the Community Wildlife Garden and the beautiful tranquil Avenue Gardens. Lakes, wildflower gardens, secluded woodlands and meadows can also be seen. It is also home to London Zoo. This world renowned conservation centre has over 650 species of fauna from all over the world and is the world’s first scientific zoo. Being a nature enthusiast the garden that appealed to me most was the Wildlife garden.
Just a short walk from Baker Street tube, on the South West side of Regent’s Park you will find the Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden. The garden was constructed during 2006 and 2007 by the ‘Wild in the Parks’ team. It is a wildlife friendly community garden, designed, constructed and planted with help from local schools, community groups and volunteers. The garden aims to demonstrate how you can encourage and support wildlife in your own urban garden, even if it is only small, or if you don’t even have one.
The front garden planted with a selection of low growing plants was designed to show that if you have a car you can park it in front of your house without the need for a concrete drive. Front gardens are disappearing from urban areas at an alarming rate which means there are fewer places for wildlife to shelter and feed.
Tucked away in a nice sheltered corner of the garden surrounded by trees, hedging and wild flowers there is an insect hotel built out of recycled materials that was made by local school children. The insect hotel helps to increase the number of beneficial insects in the garden which in turn improves its biodiversity. Much of the garden is also left to grow wild to provide cover for birds and to encourage butterflies and bees.
The main aim of the Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden is to provide a safe and friendly environment for people to visit and wildlife to flourish. Their non-intrusive gardening policy avoids the use of chemicals wherever possible, to use native plants that need little water to avoid draining precious resources and enrichment that includes a pond and bog to further the biodiversity of the garden. Ponds play an important role in the biodiversity of any wildlife garden. They provide breeding space for dragonflies, frogs and toads and are source of water for birds and mammals. If you have space, think about creating your own.
Local school children have been particularly busy with the creation of artwork which has been incorporated into the garden’s information boards. The boards provide information on how to increase the species of wildlife in the garden. Planting shrubs with berries to feed the birds in the Winter and leaving dead wood and fallen leaves for hibernation are just some of the advice shown on the colourful information boards.
Another piece of artwork provides a central focus by the lake, an 8 meter long newt sculpture constructed from earth, turf and wild flower plugs and giving the impression that he has just crawled out of the water.
The wildlife garden also has an interesting interactive sound bench powered by a solar photovoltaic panel. Visitors can sit and listen to tales from the local community on how their parks are such special places. Over the years the amount of wildlife attracted to the garden continues to rise with finches, woodpeckers, long tail, blue and great tits all visiting with great regularity. Bird boxes, bat boxes and bird feeders are dotted throughout the garden to help encourage and increase wildlife visitors.
On the day of our visit the sun was shining through the autumnal leaves making this peaceful haven in the middle of London a delight to be in. Many of the plants were turning to seed and coming to the end of their flowering season. With the colder weather just around the corner the community volunteers were busy preparing for the Winter months ahead by ensuring to provide suitable hibernation habitat for the many species of mammals, invertebrates and beneficial insects to help enrich the local ecosystem, cleaning out and erecting new bird boxes, tidying parts of the pond and composting the garden waste.
The garden is open all year round to the public during daylight hours. This tranquil oasis in the heart of London is the perfect place to escape for a few minutes or hours and watch nature do it’s dazzling thing! Cycling enthusiasts will be happy to hear that there’s a bike docking station just beside the entrance to the wildlife garden. A great way to get around to explore and discover the delights that the 410 acre Regent’s Park has to offer.