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Wild about Gardens: learn how to improve your natural spaces

Posted by Luci Ackers on 4 June 2015
Related property: Upper Norton
Gardens in Shropshire Wildlife garden with the countryside of Shropshire beyond In the wildlife garden From the garden Upper Norton Upper Norton Upper Norton

Are your gardens wild enough?

As our cities grow, our gardens are becoming more and more important to the local wildlife that inhabits them. Animals and insects rely on the natural areas that we provide for them in our own back gardens and it's easier than we sometimes realise to help them out.

Ecologist and author Jenny Steel is highly regarded in the gardening world. She has written a number of books on wildlife gardening, and writes for various organisations, websites and blogs too. Having been passionate about the wildlife in her garden from an early age, 2015 marks the 25th year since she first brought this passion to the public. Back in 1990 Jenny opened her Wildlife Gardening Centre in Oxfordshire. The idea was to set up a nursery and grow native and wildlife-friendly plants in a demonstration wildlife garden to enable other people to come along and learn how to create their own. The project was such a success that it was covered by magazines, newspapers and on television programmes such as Gardener's World and the BBC News!

Now based in Shropshire Jenny focuses largely on her writing but holds talks, signings and other events that the public can attend. It's so important to understand what different species need and how to provide for them. Jenny stresses the benefits of keeping things organic. Not using pesticides increases the number of insects which in turn increases bird numbers. Couple this with planting wildflowers, even if it's just in a very small area, and you've already boosted your chances of tempting different invertebrates. With years of experience and huge amounts of expertise both from her ecology degree and first hand, Jenny is a fountain of knowledge and is eager to pass this on to others.

She welcomes guests to her private wildlife garden at her home in Shropshire, which she has been developing over the past 10 years since moving there. Wildflower meadows, nectar borders, ponds and a woodland garden are just a few of the areas you can admire during your visit. Jenny provides one-day courses in her beautiful two-acre garden; spend the day talking with her and learning how to go about creating your own wildlife garden, gain tips and advice, discuss which native shrubs to plant to tempt nesting birds to your hedge, or how to start a nectar border to encourage important pollinators. Taking small groups of two, places do fill fast, but Jenny has assured me they will be offered in 2016 as well!

Visit Jenny's website to learn a little more about her Wildlife Gardening Courses or her upcoming events. You will also find her stunning garden pictures and her blog. Take a look at the Wildlife Gardening Website.


Perhaps you're staying in the area or at Upper Norton and fancy finding out a little more about wildlife gardening. Roughly 20 minutes away in Bishop's Castle Wildlife Gardening Courses are taking place in a private country cottage garden. You have the choice to take part in either a morning course from 9.30am – 12.30pm or an afternoon course from 2pm – 5pm. Ticket prices for these are £12 and that includes light refreshments. You will learn about how to allow your garden to flourish for the benefit of local wildlife. The next of these courses is on the 12th of June but they should be running through the summer. The website for these is here and for more info or to book you can email Bishop's Castle is also partaking in an Open Gardens Day on the 14th of June when you can visit 10 different gardens of various sizes and design. Again refreshments are available and the price for this day is £4. You can find their website here.

The gardens of Upper Norton are worth a mention while speaking of Shropshire. These gardens have been entered into the 2015 National Gardens Scheme which means though usually private, these will be open to the public on Bank Holiday Monday in August 2015. So you can wander amongst the Mediterranean style plantings and herbaceous borders, enjoying views over the Shropshire Clee Hills. Find out more here.

You can stay in the farm building holiday properties of Upper Norton for yourself. Find out how by following the link below.

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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