The Highbury Wildlife Garden centres round a small garden in North London, the humans and wildlife who use it, the local nature reserve and the neighbourhood – as it is now, and as it was – from dinosaurs to Vikings & a great deal more.

 

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 already using those spaces can move into your own 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. Some things have changed with time and the seasons. Our plants get a write-up – we share their triumphs & disasters with you. We do not use pesticides or slug pellets, & are always looking out for plants that are good for pollinators but resilient in this garden. Where we have lost plants with importance to wildlife, their pages and photos remain. Our latest newcomer, Salvia ‘Hotlips’, was discovered by mice who ate all the flowers. Now relocated & recovering, it will be soon be a featured flower on our Bees’ Favourites’ page.

 

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

Never mind the perspective, feel the wildlife! As Tiggy, the garden guardian, dreams of past battles, Starlings indulge themselves in the birdbath & a giant Snail slithers past. Two Woodpigeons investigate food – on the high table and under it.  A Squirrel sits quietly. Bluetits, Chaffinch, Great Tits and Goldfinch look for food in the seed feeders or on the Damson tree’s branches. A Sparrow perches on the trellis, a Robin sits in the Bay tree and a Ghost Mouse hides in the brickwork. On one Avocado leaf, a Speckled Wood butterfly basks in summer warmth. &  Magpies are part of the scene, where they usually drive away everyone except cats and squirrels…

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. The actors come and go; many of them 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 and manage native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, encouraging biodiversity and sharing what they know with the public. Locals join the team on Thursdays, working at nearby Parkland Walk, tiny Barnsbury Wood, or Gillespie Park itself.

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

 

This garden is different. Here we try to put creatures first wherever possible. It soon became clear that growing food for humans would be a problem; even growing plants with wildlife in mind is unpredictable. Plans and planting can be scuppered by a cold spell of frost… in winter, any plant thrusting its tendrils above ground level may have them nibbled away. Bulbs and seeds are eaten.

But seeing wildlife interact with our garden makes up for any disappointments. The flight of the pollinators, bats flying overhead at dusk or the quiet warble of a robin – all priceless moments. We know that, in our own small way, we are helping these creatures survive in the city… the entertainment they provide is a bonus.

*** Urban wildlife: Some of the wildflowers we have managed to grow 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!

Like the garden itself, this website is steadily evolving.