Sandringham Flower Show 2019

Nurture Nature

The planning for this years garden started back in April 2018, by looking at ways both the requirements of a young family and how the needs of wildlife could be incorporated together in the same garden. Over the months between then and now, the ideas developed from the drawing board to reality.

The environment is very much a hot topic at the moment, we all play a part in and developing the future of the planet. Looking into the needs of wildlife in today’s modern world, how it is becoming pushed out of its natural environment and loss of its native habitat, means in many cases it has to adapt to survive. So our gardens are becoming ever more important, a small piece of green, which could be a haven for wildlife. Just by doing a few small things in our gardens, we can help make life a little easier for them. Also many articles have been written about how it would seem that children are becoming less aware of the plants and animals around them. As children’s attention is being competed for in so many ways in this digital age, they are spending less time outdoors and loosing the contact with nature.

So the garden has been designed to have its fun side for children to play, with a hobbit house style den, rustic by design, with built in bug hotel, hedgehog house and its exterior is covered in plants. A high platform allows the garden to be viewed from above and there is also, a slide to zoom down on to the lawn. While parents can sit and relax on the patio with a cup of tea or glass of wine, whilst keeping an eye on the children.

The garden is wrapped around in cottage garden meadow turf, pre-planted with a mixture of annuals and perennials, of both wild and cultivated plants. This gives an environment that is great for wildlife, with the mixture of plants flowering though out the different seasons. A circular path of limestone stepping stones, runs through the garden linking the different areas of the garden together. The central part of the garden is planted with a range of annuals, perennials and shrubs to give a long flowering season, great for bees, butterflies and insects, this area also has a water feature, as a water supply for insects and animals in our garden is so important.

Nurture Nature Construction

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We have been working with the RSPCA wildlife hospital at East Winch, in the design of this garden and help support the work that the hospital does. The wildlife hospital does exactly what the name suggests, caring for sick and injured wildlife, hopefully rehabilitating the animals to the stage that it can be re-released back into the wild. It cost many thousands of pounds to run the hospital and it is totally reliant on donations, as it receives no government funding. To put things into context and take the Hedgehog, for example, an animal that use to be a common site in our gardens, but sadly now is rapidly in declined. The hospital cares for about 1000 of them a year, which are either: sick, injured or are just too small to make it through the Winter months. Some fortunately are quite easily treated and only stay for a few of weeks, others however stay for a number of months before they can be released back to the wild, close to the site where they were originally found. During their stay at the hospital, the Hedgehogs are fed on Pedigree dog food in gravy, as their preferred choice and each Hedgehog consumes half a tin of dog food per day, which works out at a daily cost of 31 pence. So if you just assume that on average each Hedgehog stays at the hospital for 4 weeks, which is probably a gross under estimate, during that time, each one eats their way though 14 tins of dog food costing, therefore during their stay their food cost is £8.68. Which may not seem much, but when you multiply it by a thousand Hedgehogs, that’s 14000 tins and the annual bill is just over £8500 and that’s just food, before any of the other costs are taken into consideration! The Hedgehog is the gardeners friend and likes nothing more than munching its way though a caterpillar, insect larvae and the odd snail or slug, so hopefully we will be able to raise some funds with the aid of this garden, to help the ones that need our help, get them back to good health and back munching away in our gardens.

 I would like to thank all all of the dedicated Thistlefield team for their help in constructing the garden, both on the show ground and the many hours preparation prior to the show. Also the support of the gardens sponsors below, without whom it would not have been possible to build this garden.

Harrowden Turf – Meadow Mat, Caley Forestry, Klein & Redwolf, M & B Distributors, Norfolk Quality Plants, NRS Landscape Centre & Suffolk Norfolk Life Magazine

Supporting the work of the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital at East Winch