Keeping the bees happy is one aspect of planting a wildlife garden

Keeping the bees happy is one aspect of planting a wildlife garden

The latest round of RHS Garden Shows winds it’s way around the country – Hampton Court is next up and opens 0n 8th July. I’ve been to this show twice before and I reckon that most if not all of the show gardens (and this is probably true of the other shows too), tend towards what you might call the ‘middle ground’ of design (perhaps considered a ‘safe bet’?) What I mean is that they usually combine that tried and tested formula of ‘formal structure, informal planting’ – what you might call the classic Arts and Crafts/ English Country House style.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a style I love myself and is what I’m trying to create here at the Old School Garden. But every now and then its refreshing to see something at one of the ‘design extremes’- the sort of creation that pushes you into thinking again about structural features or particular planting choices and combinations in your own garden, or even more fundamentally, what you expect your garden to do.

At this year’s Hampton Court Show one garden looks set to do this and at the same time get across some important messages about the potential food value of gardens- and in particular the wide range of good quality food that nature puts on the menu.  ‘The Jordans Wildlife Garden’ has been created to reflect a long-term commitment from Jordans to the British countryside. With a colourful variety of features from edible wild flowers, trees and hedges to oats, fruit and nuts – all of which can be foraged from the countryside – the garden provides a natural ‘larder’ to share as a shelter for birds, bees and butterflies. Its unveiling celebrates the belief that great tasting food comes from working closely with nature, as well as aiming to inspire gardeners everywhere to support British wildlife.

The Jordans Wildlife Garden Design

The Jordans Wildlife Garden Design

This Garden is set to showcase the importance of sustainability and protecting the British countryside to RHS visitors from across the country. Oat fields, inspired by Jordans’ farms, outline the sides of the garden, moving through to mown paths of species rich meadow, which curve through the space. Swathes of meadow alongside the paths give a close connection to nature. The garden is surrounded by a cut log wall and grassy banks, which form a wildlife friendly edge to the garden and a habitat for wildlife. A nut terrace that provides an edible treat for both people and wildlife surrounds the elegant, reflective pool in the centre of the garden. There are also sculpted straw benches, created by willow sculptor Spencer Jenkins, that provide a place to rest and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. Mixed native hedgerow and fruit and nut trees will surround one side of the garden, providing more edible treats for people and animals.

The Garden features have been designed to support local wildlife, including thatched insect hotels, birdhouses and feeding stations. These were all custom crafted for the Garden and add a unique beauty to the space. Design elements such as cut wood stepping-stones, created by chainsaw artist Ella Fielding, will provide further material for animals to make their homes in, whilst the meadow flowers themselves house a beehive – a core feature of any wildlife garden.

All the sustainable elements of the Garden also represent a commitment by Jordans to The Prince’s Countryside Fund, which works to support the people that take care of our countryside and ensures a sustainable future for British farmers and rural communities. And it just shows the ease with which these elements can be brought into compact garden spaces, whilst still supporting local wildlife.

Selina Botham, a passionate wildlife and garden enthusiast, designed the Garden. She has won numerous awards for her beautiful and considered approach to gardening, from Gold Medal to Best In Show for her first ever garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. And as part of its British countryside celebrations this July, Jordans has enlisted the taste expertise of Great British Bake Off winner, Edd Kimber, to create a series of foraged food recipes inspired by The Jordans Wildlife Garden.

Selina Botham
Selina Botham

Long-term supporters of wildlife habitats and increased biodiversity, Jordans’ cereal farmers devote at least 10% of their farmed areas to supporting wildlife. These sustainable practices are at the centre of the company’s ethos and their pioneering work in this area helps to create a more diverse countryside by encouraging up to five times more wildlife in agricultural spaces.

As a daily consumer of their fruity Muesli, it’s nice to know that they promote sustainable farming practices!

Links for further information:

Jordans Cereals and the Wildlife Garden

Up to date coverage of the Jordan’s Wildlife Garden at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show – on Facebook and Twitter

Old School Gardener