The Highbury Wildlife Garden is a small space behind a house in North London, together with the wildlife that uses it & the nature reserve down the street that inspired it. Its past, from dinosaurs to Vikings, is also part of this garden.

 

Even if you don’t live in Highbury, please read on. There may be something you can do to help your local wildlife. You may be able to link your windowbox, balcony or garden with nearby gardens or parks, so wildlife using those spaces can move into your patch. Or perhaps you can influence someone else. Have a look at some of the websites, groups and books that have inspired us.

 

This website was first published in May 2013. Our plants get a write-up – we share their triumphs & disasters with you. We avoid pesticides & slug pellets, & seek out plants that are good for pollinators & other wildlife.

keirgarden-optA neatened version of the garden, done in December 2010 from photos…

Never mind the perspective, feel the wildlife! As Tiggy, our guardcat, dreams of past battles, wildlife makes use of the garden. Starlings splash in the birdbath. Woodpigeons search for food on the high table, & beneath it. Squirrel & Sparrow perch on the trellis as Bluetits, Chaffinch, Great Tits & Goldfinch trawl through the feeders or over the branches of the Damson tree. There is a Robin in the Bay tree, a Ghost Mouse in the brickwork. A butterfly (Speckled Wood) basks on an avocado leaf. Magpies usually drive other birdlife away, but here they are part of the company.

GARDEN1 - Garden flat view with Verbascum Olympicum, Helenium, Potentilla in bloom, 19th July 2011

 

This is the view from the Garden Flat. Roger, our gardener, called it a stage set where the actors come & go. Many have flown or been blown our way from Gillespie Park, the Local Nature Reserve down the road.

Conservation Rangers at its Islington Ecology Centre plant & manage native trees, shrubs & wildflowers. They encourage biodiversity & share what they know with the public. Volunteers join the team on Thursdays, working at nearby Parkland Walk, tiny Barnsbury Wood, or Gillespie Park itself.

Local gardener Naomi Schillinger’s website  outofmyshed.co.uk  tells of communal gardening on & around nearby Ambler Road. Neighbours, with help from a Council grant, grow fruit & veg in canvas bags which sit in their front gardens. Well done to them.

 

This garden is different. Here, trying to put creatures first wherever possible, we found that growing food for humans would be a problem. Even growing plants with wildlife in mind is unpredictable. Plans & planting can be scuppered by a spell of frost. In winter, any plant thrusting its tendrils above ground level may have them nibbled away. Bulbs & seeds are eaten.

But seeing wildlife interact with our garden makes up for any disappointments. The flight of the pollinators, bats on overhead maneuvres at dusk or a robin’s presence nearby – all priceless moments. We are helping these creatures survive in the city… the entertainment they provide is a bonus.

*** Urban wildlife: Some of the wildflowers we have grown here may be unwelcome elsewhere, even reviled as noxious weeds. Some of the insects who visit our garden may be pests in other places. And some creatures we have come to accept as part of North London’s biodiversity may be seen as vermin in the countryside.

A pest to us can be somebody else’s dinner.’
John Chambers, Wild Flower Gardening, WI Books

FEATURING
WEBSITE - Highbury Jurassic dino closeup

JURASSIC HIGHBURY
TIGG3 on dustbin

THE MATCHDAY MOGGIE
Gillespie Park frog mosaic

GILLESPIE PARK
guilty-frog

NORTH LONDON WILDLIFE
WEBSITE - The Battle for Tolla's Hill - Saxon defender

VIKINGS AT THE BOTTOM OF OUR GARDENS
Insect - Forest Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes) on blue table, 3rd Sep 2012

CREATURE FEATURE
WPL3 Purple Loosestrife, 3 spires in fern bed with spent Meadowsweet

BEES FAVOURITES
VicBrk1 Old Victorian bricks

LONDON CLAY & THE BRICKFIELDS
your-garden-needs-you

WHAT YOU
CAN DO
xParkland Walk, the Spriggan b

PLACES TO VISIT

ORGANIC TIPS

SQUIRRELS!