By far the most inventive and charming garden there was The Pearl Fisher Garden designed by Karen Welman (www.pearlfishergarden.com
). I have struggled to find a reason to include this in a piece strictly about WILDLIFE gardening, but I am going to somehow. I loved it so much! Its whole focus was on saving the seas from plastic waste, which we all want to do. As a habitat in a small town garden, plus a fabulous place for kids to explore, as well as adults at night-lit parties it would be relatively easy to copy and have great impact in the tiniest alleyway.
O.K. -it did have 3 floor-to-head height cylindrical aquaria filled with colourful tropical fish in it – BUT, you could just have an ordinary aquarium in it on an eye-level shelf on a back wall and the plants nestled around it. AND in the Aquarium you don’t have to have tropical fish – you can have a cold-water tank with native tadpoles, dragonfly larvae, newts etc. dipped from a wildlife pond. A rather fascinating temporary project for all the family!
The cleverest thing was the use of houseplants like Mother-in-law’s-tongue Sansevieria trifasciata, cacti, succulents and air-plants to mimic an underwater scene or coral reef. Spanish moss hung down from the metal frames overhead; sedums stuck between stones on the floor. Great fun for kids to create, and they could learn about the underwater environment while doing it. You could even make it in a corner of the conservatory or a classroom. And the flowers of many sedums are great for pollinators!
The Seedlip garden
was interesting- all about growing more of the Fabiaceae (pea) family – which are pollinated by insects and include many of our garden flowers like Lupins, Broom and Sweetpeas, as well as many of our vegetables.
Members of this family can often grow in the most infertile places because they can fix their own nitrogen from the air via root nodules. This means they can grow in near desert or conversely in waterlogged situations – like the two species of Bird’s foot Trefoil. the lesser (Lotus corniculatus) grows on dry, bare brownfield sites and road verges and the greater (Lotus pedunculatus) grows in bogs and damp patches, suppressing even horsetail growth in my field!
These are important butterfly and bee plants, having a higher protein content in their pollen than many other flowers, and being the larval foodplant of the Common Blue and other blues, Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper butterflies and several moths.
Below: the Gold Medal winning designer, Dr. Catherine MacDonald, and support