Knoll Gardens follows a naturalistic style of gardening, honouring and using the processes seen in nature, in a garden setting. In adopting this approach the gardens have brought in a wide range of wildlife, now recorded in an annual Wildlife Survey in August, organised by the Knoll Gardens Foundation.
Along with other regular surveys of individual groups, such as bees and butterflies for example, this annual survey creates a vital snapshot of wildlife activity and the findings are building in to a valuable year on year record. Gaining a greater understanding of the relationship between plants, gardening styles and methods and wildlife is a key part of the Foundation’s work, so that it can encourage others to adopt techniques that benefit the gardener and garden wildlife.
As the period of lockdown, hopefully, comes to an end, have you noticed any changes in wildlife activity or species in the garden?
Not specifically. Knoll is not a busy garden in comparison say with a public park, so it is never hugely busy as we like to encourage an atmosphere of quiet relaxation if we can. Of course our design intention is specifically to encourage wildlife alongside people so perhaps any changes might be more subtle than in a usually busier space.
What plants, perennials or grasses, should we be considering to encourage wildlife?
So many plants are good that it is almost pointless to give a list. However variety is always good; so a mix of trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials and bulbs helps provide the best environment and therefore has the best chance of offering wildlife what it needs. Pollen is good for our bees and butterflies and single flowers are known to be better than most blowsy double forms. It is important to have some flower for as long as possible; here at Knoll we try and have something in flower every day of the year. Offering water is essential and is often something that is overlooked.
What would be your most important tip to encourage wildlife into a garden?
Use a variety of different plants to create a variety of different habitats that are more likely to appeal to some wildlife. Don’t be too tidy! For example; leaving some debris/mulch on the soil surface is helpful and less work for the gardener.