• Who did the owl have for supper?

    Reluctant feet have put on new school shoes and it isn’t long before the summer holidays are a distant memory. Our summer visitors have watched, drawn and attempted to identify bumble bees, measured trees to  estimate their ages, made pine cone hedgehogs, starling finger puppets and bird feeders.

    As usual, the star family activity of the summer has been dissection of owl pellets. Little do the local barn owls know…

    • 5 Sep 2017
  • A few of my favourite things about working at Flatford Wildlife Garden

    A few of my favourite things about working in Flatford Wildlife Garden

    Flatford Wildlife Garden is designed to inspire people to help wildlife in their own gardens. I’m the Visitor Experience Officer for the garden and so I spend most days there. We’re looking for new Welcome Team volunteers, so I thought I’d maybe tempt you by sharing a few of my favourite things . . .

    https://youtu.be/WK1StCPkpJ…

    • 4 Jul 2017
  • Enormous amphibian found at Flatford Wildlife Garden

    A giant frog has been spotted at Flatford Wildlife Garden, just along the boardwalk, sitting right next to the pond. He doesn’t seem to be spooked by anything! Nothing to worry about though, he’s not an alien invader, but one of the characters in our new family trail. All the characters are examples of the creatures to be found in the garden, and all are hand-carved locally from sweet chestnut from Stour Woods (www.rspb…

    • 2 May 2017
  • O, to be in England, now that April's there...

    April is a wonderful time in the garden – although it awakens slowly to the sun’s warmth, the small precious flowers that herald spring are particularly lovely – little jewel-like crocus opening to the sun and to the tiny solitary bees  that seek their pollen; the delicate beauty of dainty wild daffodils, belying their ability to withstand fickle spring weather… The sweet-violets on a sunny bank attracting…

    • 1 Apr 2015
  • Predators wanted!

     Sometimes it’s nice to be a victim of one’s own success…. Sometimes less so! Having just planted out our spring bulbs at the wildlife garden, imagine our chagrin at finding many of our crocuses and tulips gobbled up by naughty little voles… Well, I hear you say, it IS a wildlife garden… Touché!

    The ecologist in me says (once the impotent rage has subsided) that nature will soon…

    • 5 Jan 2015
  • Looking ahead to spring...

    Well, now the Big Garden Birdwatch is over, and we all know what birds and other creatures share our gardens with us, (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ ) let’s look ahead and see what we can do to help them all through spring…. Hopefully you already have plans for putting up bird boxes for when those little blue tits get broody, but there are other creatures which also really need our help in the next few months. …

    • 5 Feb 2014
  • What birds are visiting your garden this winter?

    Fieldfare eating apples, by Liz CuttingSo, who’s seen a fieldfare yet this winter? I personally haven’t seen many, probably due to the strong south westerlies keeping them at home in Scandinavia, and also perhaps due to the mildness of the winter so far. (They’re just not that hungry yet) Those of you who have been lucky enough to spot fieldfares, redwings or other thrushes – I bet they were feasting on berries! I’ve seen them on rowan trees, pyracantha (also…

    • 22 Jan 2014
  • A Day in the Life of a Dedham Vale Youth Ranger

    Dedham Vale Youth Rangers at work in Flatford MeadowsWritten by Amber, one of our young volunteers: "I’ve only been living in the area for a short time, so joining the youth rangers seemed like a brilliant chance to meet new people and get involved with wildlife and conservation work. I wasn't wrong. From the first day I knew it was going to be a great and rewarding experience. The Youth Ranger’s work is based at Flatford, which is such a beautiful area, just bursting with…

    • 25 Nov 2013
  • This week is RHS National Gardening Week

    Join Shirley for an informal tour!

    Here at Flatford we will be offering tours of the garden every day during RHS National Gardening Week. We will be offering advice on how to make your own garden more wildlife friendly. There will also be advice on sustainable gardening, and a chance to propagate a plant or two to take home. There will be two sessions daily from Tuesday 16th until Sunday 21st, one at 12 noon and one at 2pm, which will cost £4 per person…

    • 16 Apr 2013
  • Your garden sanctuary.....

    Helleborus x hybridus, also known as Lenten RoseAs the world outside our windows begins to awaken with the spring, our thoughts often turn to our gardens.... And what a fantastic time to get outside, what with spring flowers peeping, and birds singing with joy!

    Gardens can be a great refuge for our wildlife, especially struggling creatures like song thrushes, hedgehogs, frogs and toads, house sparrows, bumblebees and butterflies. Did you know that gardens cover almost…

    • 22 Mar 2013
  • A splash of spring colour

     Spring has finally sprung! Well okay, maybe it hasn’t fully arrived, but it is most certainly on its way, and what better indication than the sudden burst of colour in our gardens, woodlands, and even roadside verges? The snowdrops started lifting their delicate heads a few weeks ago, and now it’s the daffodils’ turn. These simple yet beautiful flowers are easily distinguished from other springs bulbs by the long flat…

    • 18 Mar 2013
  • A song in the air

    Well, we certainly got our fair share of ice and snow this year, and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the warm days of spring. However, the cold weather of winter also brings with it a flurry of migrants from the continent, travelling to warmer climates in search of food. Amongst these are members of the thrush family; most notably the redwing and the fieldfare. Song thrushes and mistle thrushes, though sadly declining…

    • 1 Feb 2013
  • Standing seedheads a valuable source of winter food

     Imagine me, reader with a very smug expression on my face. Today, I am vindicated.

    Each Autumn, I grit my teeth and withstand the overwhelming urge to tidy the garden up as it slowly lapses into tatty grey winteriness. I grit my teeth even harder at the occasional disapproving glances received from passers-by looking over the garden fence... I imagine their thoughts - "Bit of a mess, eh? I would have cut those perennials…

    • 21 Jan 2013
  • A rustle in the leaves

    Well, it seems that our mild autumn has come to an end, and the chill of winter has firmly settled upon us. At this time of year plenty of garden birds can be seen rummaging around looking for food, both on the ground and in the bare branched trees. Blackbirds (Turdus merula) are one the most familiar sights in the winter British garden, and didn’t choose make themselves scarce last week while Shirley and myself were…

    • 17 Dec 2012
  • Winter birdlife....

    Fieldfare eating apples by Liz CuttingWith the chilly weather of late, the birds are our constant companions as we go about our gardening business. There are always one or two robins with a serious case of cupboard love about, keeping a sharp eye on what the spade turns up… We’re noticing increasing numbers of blackbirds ferreting around in the base of the ‘dead hedge’ we laid last winter, so I suppose they’re finding insects and earthworms in the leaf litter…

    • 10 Dec 2012
  • A flash of blue and green

    The Flatford Wildlife Garden gets more than its share of colourful and interesting insects, and with a shady, overgrown ditch at the bottom of the slope, it’s no surprise that we regularly see dragonflies and damselflies hunting in the garden during warm weather. What is surprising is the abundance of an unusual and strikingly beautiful species of damselfly that seems to have found a stronghold in the garden; the Willow…

    • 3 Oct 2012
  • And the winner is.....

    Shirley Boyle and volunteer Dick Rabjohn accepting the awardEnvision me grinning from ear to ear, reader, if you please. You see, yesterday at the prestigious annual Biffa Awards Ceremony, our lovely wildlife garden project was awarded first prize in the Recreation Category. I had been pleased enough to be nominated, and had not expected to win against some very worthy competition, so imagine my delight when the category Judge, Nathan Williams of the Ingleby Foundation, announced…

    • 29 Sep 2012
  • So much more than a walk around the garden

     

    (A quick word from Becky, a new volunteer)

    The garden at sunset

    I've just got back from spending some time in the RSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden, re-acquainting myself with some ancient and unconscious knowledge and soaking as much new detail as I could. I say ancient because I think that deep down in our bones we know that we have a responsibility to look after all life - and unconscious, because I'm not quite sure exactly what it was…

    • 26 Sep 2012
  • Snake in the grass!

    Brace yourselves, I am going to talk to you about all things rotten. Namely, compost heaps, leafmould and habitat piles!

    Grass snake, by Liz Cutting

    Firstly - compost heaps. I was tutting to myself as I removed a pile of freshly-cut grass from the top of the completely-rotten bay of the compost heap, when I was suddenly silenced by the slither of a snake beneath the grass.... Imagine my delight as I identified the mesmerising yellow chevrons…

    • 14 Sep 2012
  • Midsummer on the Stour

    Foxgloves, ornamental thistle and Nigella

    It a crazy time of year in the garden - what with the alternating periods of warmth and rain, it's always a struggle to keep up with the weeds, but it has meant that the garden has really burgeoned this summer.... And it's alive with bees, which is pleasing! At the moment they're particularly enjoying the ornamental thistle, Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', the foxgloves and blue Salvia 'Mainacht'.…

    • 16 Jun 2012
  • ....now that April is here!

    Bumblebee on lungwort flowerI’m happy to say the garden has come a long way in the last month – back in March I was resigning myself to another desperately dry spring, but then the rain arrived, thankfully! Prior to that, it was clear to see that the plants (and the weeds!) were poised and waiting to grow, but the dry dusty conditions were threatening to stunt their spring exuberance. 

    Since the rain, everything has romped away, and…

    • 16 Apr 2012
  • Seeking volunteers!

    It's that magical time of year when every fresh day brings new surprises in the garden... The first sharp purple spikes of Iris reticulata emerging from the earth, the sunny yellow crocuses suddenly opening and becoming visiable on a warm, springlike day... and a few days ago, the first of our tiny wild daffodils flowering in the orchard! I don't know why each and every little flower seems like such a surprise - after…

    • 9 Mar 2012
  • Diggin 'oles in the rain

    Jon and Rick, assisted by Jacob for the first half, spent a soggy day digging 'oles in preparation for constructing a new cattle handling facility at the back of the Wildlife Garden (not open to the public). A myriad of different elements will come together to make this essential structure: a post-hole auger borrowed from our Minsmere reserve (the big yellow thing at the back of the tractor); posts made from sweet chestnut…

    • 26 Jan 2012
  • Like fun? Come to our Big Garden Birdwatch Events!

    Big Garden Birdwatch Logo

    This Saturday and Sunday are your chance to  contribute to the official Big Garden Birdwatch - and a great opportunity to observe the birds in your garden, park, or other open space. It's also a great time to come down to Flatford Wildlife Garden and get involved.

    We had great fun last weekend and hope to encourage and inspire even more people this week, with activities including a family-friendly bird trail,…

    • 25 Jan 2012
  • Snowdrops say Spring...

    Snowdrops emerge, brushing away the memory of Autumn


    This week's work-party gave me a chance to see the very first snowdrops emerging in the garden. Being an Antipodean who frequently struggles with the long dark winter here, I always feel a moment of disproportionate wild joy when the first promises of spring-to-come appear. We have a startling spread of snowdrops here at Flatford, as I discovered last winter…

    • 16 Jan 2012