Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

Written by Clive & Hilary Westwood from St Catherine’s Church in Canton

St Catherine's sits in an acre, a mile from the city centre, walled, fenced and surrounded by Victorian buildings. The original corrugated "flat-pack" church is now the church hall, used for social activities and groups - tai chi, puppy training, Brownies and Sunday School! The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1883 and work was completed in 1893. A lot of the land was laid to lawn with shrubs along the boundary fronting the road. Trees were planted in 1893 and added to in the 1920s. A few still remain and they, and most of the other trees, are listed.

Much of the land round the perimeter was untouched and undergrowth was pretty much left alone. About seven years ago a small group decided to develop, improve and diversify the grounds. New flower beds were created, an allotment developed behind the hall and a greenhouse erected. Then someone offered us a plum tree and an apple tree so of course we had to create a fruit garden! Gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes, rhubarb, more apple trees and a fig tree followed. Herbs were planted among the fruit trees and our jam and chutney are popular. A local cafe takes the surplus fruit and veg.

The work has been helped enormously by students and staff from Woodlands High School who volunteer with us in term time as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme.

A lot of birds make their home in our trees: blackbirds, thrushes, blue tits, robins and jays as well as the more numerous pigeons, starlings, sparrows and crows. Last year we installed two nesting boxes and hope they will be used again this spring. Squirrels chase around and are probably responsible for the random little oak trees found in odd places.

The greatest excitement came three years ago when a vixen reared three cubs in an earth behind the blackberry bushes. The children were thrilled to see two cubs playing on the grass one Sunday morning. We keep hoping she'll come back. Only one hedgehog has been seen, probably because the perimeter walls deter access.

Our links with RSPB and Buglife started three years ago and certain areas are left wild to encourage birds and insects. We have also extended the range of plants that attract pollinators, introducing herbs like marjoram and thyme as well as rosemary and lavender.

We have had two Discovery Days for families where children have helped plant a bird- friendly hedge, made bug houses and been on bug hunts with Liam. The next Day is Saturday 16th May. Following the Discovery Days we now know we are hosts to 16 types of bee including the first recorded sighting in Cardiff of a big-headed mining bee. We also recorded 21 invertebrates including a hawthorn shieldbug, a spotted snake millipede and a zebra spider.

St Catherine's is committed to the conservation of urban wildlife. We have had fun and learnt a lot. Thank you, RSPB and Buglife!

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