Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.
Most people walk through the gates of Llandaff North Allotments thinking ‘gardening’, but I think ‘wildlife’. We have over 200 cultivated plots here, but three areas are unsuitable for growing and these are dedicated to improving biodiversity. By the entrance, there’s a large pond which teems with life, both in the water and out. Norman the heron plays statues, waiting to scoop up a froggy breakfast, beautiful dragonflies skims the water’s surface and ‘scorpions’ hunts tadpoles in the murky depths ... a great place for a picnic!
Over the track from the pond is a new project, which is proving rather hard work to develop. It’s a quiet, sheltered corner which is already visited by lots of common garden birds. So, we decided to make it even more bird-friendly. Over the past year and a half, we planted mixed hedgerow (courtesy of the Giving Nature a Home in Cardiff project) and Mac, our chairman, installed nesting boxes up in the trees. Within the day they were occupied by blue tits! We hope to build a hide in one corner next year, so that people can watch avian comings and goings. Apart from common birds we often see migrants like fieldfares and redwings and clouds of goldfinches, chaffinches and the occasional greenfinch.
The high numbers of small birds and mammals attracts larger predators; we’ve seen a sparrow hawk swoop down to seize unsuspecting victims and some folk have glimpsed stoats - small, ferocious predators. My night camera has picked up foxes prowling about the site and in spring I recorded four cubs playing in our third wildlife area, at the far corner of the site, next to the railway line. This sizeable piece of land had been developed for wildlife in previous years with a pond, several planted saplings and woodpiles and bug hotels built under the trees. Unfortunately, the central grassy area was overgrown with brambles and so three years ago we decided to create a wildflower meadow for pollinating insects and we became involved with Urban Buzz, a project initially set-up by Buglife Cymru, which is now run by the Giving Nature a Home in Cardiff partnership. A group of volunteers prepared the ground after which we were given 250 wildflower plugs, chosen for the soil and existing flora, plus four fabulous bee hotels which we put up in the meadow. This summer the flowers were literally buzzing with life. Loads of exotic painted lady butterflies arrived and tend to like the thistle flowers. It was also great to see uncommon brown-banded carder bees and rare large-headed resin bees. By September the bee hotels were fully booked and Mac cut a path through the meadow so that parents could take their children around. An information board was also placed to record other exciting finds.
We do have some pretty special humans here too and thanks to the Giving Nature a Home in Cardiff project we held a Discovery Day in June for everyone. Parents and fledgling gardeners, undeterred by the rain, enjoyed bug hunting, pond dipping and looking for slow worms. We don’t just grow vegetables and fruit on our allotment - we grow nature lovers too.
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