Written 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 wildlife throughout the year. It’s always lovely in the RSPB gardens during lunch as we can watch all the different birds and insects and smell the beautiful plants. We’ve worked in different areas around the lovely Flatford, doing various tasks including building and lighting a bonfire! What has been really beneficial is learning things you wouldn't have learnt in a classroom, such as building a deadwood fence or how each plant benefits different aspects of wildlife in its own way, including those pesky stinging nettles! Another great thing about the Youth Rangers is that everything we do around Flatford benefits everyone; people who visit the mill, people who work there and even the wildlife that lives there. It’s always great to see people walking along a path you have helped clear or using the sign you have installed. I personally feel that the best thing about the youth rangers is the people. Everyone you work with is so passionate about everything they do for the area so you can't help but share their enthusiasm as you work alongside them. Going home from the day always leaves you feeling that it was time very well spent. Knowing you've helped local wildlife and given something back to the community rather than staying at home watching TV always boosts your mood. And so ends the day in the life of a youth ranger. "
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. No need to book a place at this stage, just come along on the day.
So, come and visit our inspiring garden - following the long awaited arrival of spring, it is coming to life! The wildlife gardening tours will cover many aspects of wildlife gardening - we will be discussing:
- choice of plants
- ways to create different habitats in your garden
- how to provide natural sources of food throughout the year
- wildlife needs during the winter months
- the specific needs of various forms of garden wildlife.
We'll also have a propagation session at the end, where you will have a chance to propagate a wildlife-friendly plant to take home.
As 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 3 times as much land as the RSPB owns? They can also provide stepping stones of good habitat for wildlife across an otherwise hostile landscape.
Often, it’s only a few small changes that are needed in order to make your garden helpful to wildlife. Here at the RSPB’s wildlife garden at Flatford in Suffolk, it’s our mission to teach and inspire people to bear wildlife in mind whilst gardening....
Five simple things you can do that will really make a difference are:
1. Choose flowers for nectar and pollen, to help our bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
2. Build a log pile, or edge your paths with logs – deadwood provides food and shelter for many small creatures, which in turn are food for bigger creatures.
3. Introduce a bit of water – whether it’s a saucer of water or a pond, water is one of life’s essentials!
4. Leave a bit of your lawn uncut. Longer grass is home for many insects and invertebrates.
5. Leave a nice, dense area of shrubby planting somewhere quiet. The thick, undisturbed cover means wildlife feels safe. If you can plant a tree or two, even better!
If you’d like more info on gardening for wildlife, our Homes for Wildlife pages are especially designed to guide and advise you!
If you’d like to see wildlife gardening in action, why not plan a visit to Flatford Wildlife Garden? It’s free entry, and a beautiful setting in which to pick up a few tips. Open every day from 29 March until 3 November.