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A Wildlife Garden Blooming with Inspiration

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Posted: Thursday 4th October 2018 by WildBlog

By Hannah Welsh, Avon Wildlife Trust People and Wildlife Officer

On a sunny evening last week, we celebrated the opening of a new therapy and wildlife garden at the MS Therapy Centre in Bradley Stoke. With bees buzzing around the wildflowers and centre staff, users and members of the local community enjoying the sights and sounds of the garden, it was with great satisfaction that we cut a garland woven from wildflowers and announced it open!

This six-month project to transform a once unused, bare outdoor space, has been a collaborative effort between the MS Centre, Avon Wildlife Trust and Rolls Royce. Working with graduates from Rolls Royce, we gathered ideas from users of the therapy centre, carers, the local school and garden designers to develop a design which offers an inspiring, safe and accessible space for people, along with diverse habitats for pollinators and other wildlife.

This project would not have been possible without the hard work of the many corporate groups and volunteers who joined us over the months. Groups got stuck in to digging and wheelbarrowing through the difficult conditions through the seasons. Faced with thick, heavy clay in the wet spring and rock-hard clay in the dry summer, we lost more than one pair of shoes to the mud! Once the accessible paths were laid by Elmtree contractors we really got going – creating a spiral herb bed, digging out wildflower meadows, planting a hedgerow, preparing shrub borders, laying turf, and building raised beds. We also built an archway for climbers with larch sourced from our Folly Farm nature reserve, planted a living willow screen for a secluded therapy area and with great satisfaction filled the various beds with pollinator-friendly plants, many of which came from our native wildflower nursery at Feed Bristol.

Members of the centre have already been using the garden, using the space for therapeutic exercises classes and relaxation. One patient commented on how happy she is to have the space, not only for herself to enjoy in between treatments, but also for her son who often joins her at the centre. With members facing increasing difficulties in accessing green spaces due to restricted mobility, accessibility or fear of falling, this wildlife therapy garden provides a space for reflection and the opportunity to take in the sunshine. We’ve already had requests to get involved with caring for the garden and the centre will provide gloves and tools for keen green fingered volunteers.

So many people went out of their way to make this project a success and it has been incredible and heart-warming to see what a good cause, sheer determination and heaps of goodwill can do. The garden also shows how wildlife-rich spaces can be created in the midst of urban settings. With a bug hotel created by the local primary school, pollinator friendly plants, wildflower meadows and a native hedgerow, the site is already humming with bees and butterflies and will continue to develop as a haven for nature in Bradley Stoke. The wildlife garden is part of Avon Wildlife Trust’s work inspiring people enjoy and value nature and part of our work to create nature-rich towns, cities and neighbourhoods. I’m looking forward to hearing just how much this wonderful garden benefits people and wildlife in the months ahead.

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