Doing things to help wildlife in your own garden is one thing (and a big cheer to everyone playing their part), but the results can be even more impressive if you do it as part of your local community.

I've had the privilege over the last few years to meet a number of groups of people doing just that. Those of you who receive the RSPB's Nature's Home magazine may recognise some of these stories, but hopefully you will enjoy the return visit; to those for whom these stories are new, I hope you enjoy the sense of shared endeavour that pervades them all.

First, let's go to Sherborne in Dorset, where ten years ago a group of local residents led by Bill Heath decided it was time to take over a piece of derelict land right next to the main road. Their plan was to create a garden that would be enjoyed by passers-by and pollinators in equal measure.

Several skiploads of rubbish later, and after some heavy digging to cultivate the ground, they were able to sow annual flower seeds. The results were so spectacular that they have done it every year since.

They've had their challenges over the years, and have come to realise that when you sow large areas of annuals, the results are different each year, but the place buzzes with life through the summer, and passers-by love it. They even have a website.

Meanwhile, also in Dorset, I got to meet John Gould, who in his eighties had taken on the management of a large roadside verge that had also been neglected. Now neglect can sometimes be pretty good for wildlife, but not here.

John called on the help of local farmers to help plough the land, and he then sowed a seed mix containing cornfield annuals (Common Poppy, Corncockle, Corn Marigold etc) and perennial meadow wildflowers, such as wild grasses, Bird's-foot Trefoil and Black Knapweed. What this means is that you get a show of colour in year one, and then it settles down to become more like a haymeadow, giving a more muted palette but one that is increasingly rich in grasshoppers and butterflies.

But it is for people to enjoy, too, so John put in a bench, and takes a home-made information panel to village events to inspire people about it.

Over in Somerset, I met up with Ann-Marie Morris, who has approached the community angle rather differently. She manages her own beautiful garden with wildlife in mind, but then she has helped build a circle of like-minded local people who then inspire and influence each other. Ann-Marie also writes in the local newspaper about it, and grows lots of wildlife-friendly plants to sell at local events.

All these methods, whether taking over a public space, or sharing experiences with a group of friends, help save nature beyond your garden boundaries. In fact, you can have impact by something as simple as telling your neighbour why you have planted a certain plant, or inviting them around to see the wildlife using your garden, or potting up some seedlings of the best wildlife plants as presents.

I'm sure that many of you have been similarly busy in your local area. If so, we'd love to hear you story.

Anonymous