A time for weeding and enjoying the wildlife

July Wildlife Update from Brogdale Collections

We love the rain!

Apart from when we’ve had school groups in doing bee walks and minibeast hunts, the rain for the wildlife garden has been fantastic. Not only is the pond thriving with lots of whirligig beetles and pond-skaters on the surface as well as water snails underneath, but we have seen common blue damsel flies visiting frequently too. One of our eagle-eyed volunteers also reported seeing a newt pop up. So we are waiting to see if the pond will be colonised by local amphibians this year. 

Hard working volunteers

We have been having regular Friday morning work parties in the garden. Our committed volunteer team has been successfully tending our beetroots, peas, courgettes, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and artichokes in our Wildlife Garden raised beds, as well as a lot of maintenance work across all the garden habitats too.

We have found this year has been particularly good for the perennial Alexander (Smyrnium Olusatrum ) – or horse parsley. This has managed to out-compete the ground elder we would usually be battling with in spring and early summer. Our team has been tenaciously hand weeding it to keep it under control and so far all their hard work seems to be paying off!

Beautiful meadow

The meadow area is full of nectar rich flowers at the moment, providing lots of food for our visiting insects and especially our honey and bumble bees. There are lots of tall ox-eye daisies, vetch and red campion. We are constantly working to encourage a longer flowering year in the wildlife garden to feed our nectar seeking pollinators. We have been rewarded by sightings so far this year of buff tailed, white tailed, garden and red-tailed bumble bees as well as common carder bumblebees, and some solitary bees too.

Hedges matter too

As well as enjoying the huge amounts of buttercups and other wildflowers in our meadow fields during ‘No Mow May’, we have been reminded this year of the importance of messy bottoms under or hedges. These increase the habitat spaces for wildlife in the orchards supporting the biodiversity needed to maintain health in our orchard ecosystem. A nettle to us might be a stinging hazard, but our orchard ladybirds, a pollinator too, have been feasting on the aphids they have found on them through the hot dry days.

With this in mind our volunteer team have been managing some additional wildlife pockets around the site. This will improve the habitats we have with the aim of prolonging a diverse nectar season around the orchards and hopefully the biodiversity of species will be supported as a result.

The National Fruit Collection is one of the largest fruit collections in the world and is located at Brogdale Farm, near Faversham, Kent.

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