A Pollinator border

Marc Carlton’s 2010 cottage garden pollinator border, designed to attract wild bees & hoverflies.

This website by naturalist & gardener Marc Carlton is based on careful observation of plants & pollinators in the gardens he created in S London & Chepstow near the Bristol Channel.

* How insects feed from flowers
* A planting list for pollinators
* The basics of nature-friendly gardening
* Garden meadows
* Recommended reading lists
* Links to helpful sites
* Dutch & German nature gardens, & a N American page for readers in the USA/Canada

“The UK is nothing more than a peninsula of Europe, and has only been separated for some 8,000 years… Our flora is a shared subset of that of western Europe, as is our insect fauna. I choose western Europe as the main region of origin of plants for my pollinator border.”

“My second principle is to concentrate on flower forms which are close to nature, so no double flowers, complex hybrids or horticultural novelties.”

“I also include a wide variety of flower shapes and sizes, to help cater for the diversity of insect mouthparts and specialisations evolved to tackle different forms of flower.”

Marc advises:  Choose a sunny site; Create shelter from prevailing cold wind; Group flowers of the same kind in large drifts; Plan for a succession of flowers through the growing season; Minimise or avoid the use of pesticides. Marc can be reached via the Contact page of the website. .

Follow him on Twitter: @foxleas_marc

Some website content is available as pdfs, but only for personal, non-commercial use.





This is a joint initiative between The Royal Horticultural Society ( & The WildlifeTrusts ( It offers information, project ideas and a monthly newsletter aimed at helping us attract more wildlife to our gardens. It has profiles on more than 200 birds, mammals, reptiles and plants. This year is all about beetles – click on the link to their website for help in building a beetle bucket, beetle bank or dead hedge in your garden to help bring back the beetles.  


In these ad-free youtube video blogs from the West of Ireland, writer & environmentalist Colette O’Neill walks with Border Collie Jack over 3 acres of reclaimed land which is now a sanctuary for wildlife. Vids, taken by camera or handheld phone, are downloaded via a hotspot. They may persuade you,, & others who happen upon them, to think differently about gardening. Livestream chat comes from far beyond Ireland & the UK.

This is a therapeutic site, positive & hopeful. Colette tells of her work on the site (Goddess Permaculture), the chop & drop technique, flowers in bloom, today’s weather, the Celtic calendar.

 Bealtaine Cottage publications – books, calendars, bumper stickers & a double-sided map on card (right, by Irish artist David Gascoigne) are printed in Ireland – rather than by, say, corporate giant Amazon. Colette addresses & stamps all orders  & mails them from the local post office. Her first book, A Cottage and Three Acres, takes the reader

‘…from a desolate cottage set in 3 acres of monoculture sadness to a vibrant, thriving food forest of life…   Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.’


 Here are a few vids, of the over 500 Colette has done, to get you started. Please share with friends.


knapGardener, botanist and writer Sarah Raven, known for her work at Sissinghurst and appearances on BBC2’s Gardener’s World, is based at Perch Hill Farm, Sussex, where she has her cutting garden. With a visit to Sarah’s website you can order books, plants and seeds, sign up for a course or arrange to receive her newsletter.

Sarah Raven’s Garden and Cookery School, Perch Hill Farm, Willingford Lane, Brightling, Robertsbridge East Sussex TN32 5HP



Sarah is on youtube, (22.3K subscribers) with vids from her oast garden, veg garden & rose garden,  looking at individual plants & making tea & ice cream. Sarah’s BBC2 series, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, was her attempt at halting the decline in the country’s pollinators.



Companion Plants      2020


Every Saturday Alexandra Campbell uploads this website and blog ‘with ideas, tips and inspiration so you can enjoy your garden more.’ Her own garden in Faversham, Kent, may be more grand of scale than many of our urban plots, but Alexandra‘s website is always worth a look. She visits other gardens & interviews other gardeners, seeking their hints and tips.

Alexandra is an author & journalist. The Middle-Sized Garden Guide to Garden Privacy, one of her many books, is available on Kindle & on Amazon. The Middle-Sized Garden youtube channel has 56.8K subscribers as of February 2021.    https: //

This wildlife-friendly garden, the Abbey Physic Community Garden in Faversham, was part of Faversham Abbey before King Henry VIII abolished the monasteries. The garden occupies half an acre in the middle of town and backs onto one of Britain’s most ancient medieval streets.


This archive tells us about plants through traditional tales, legends, local plant names, sayings, riddles & herbal remedies. The Compiler is author & lecturer Roy Vickery, a Natural History Museum botanist born in rural Dorset, now living in South London.

The Compiler is available for walks and talks.  “Roy is an experienced lecturer on plant folklore, and is also available to lead walks on the uses and folklore of plants – you provide the weed patch or the hedgerow, he will do the rest. As such events are considered to be important opportunities for collecting new material they are usually given free of charge in the Greater London area, and with only a charge to cover transport elsewhere.”


Due to Covid regulations it is necessary to book in advance for most events. For upcoming walks and talks:   

Roy welcomes information on plants from all parts of the British Isles, ethnic groups settled there, & comparative material from overseas, no matter how widespread and well-known you consider it to be. A copy of all material received will eventually be in the care of the Library of The Natural History Museum. See website for details.

PLANT-LORE . Collecting the folklore and uses of plants .


VICKERY’S FOLK FLORA  An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2019.  A greatly expanded version of the 1995 Dictionary of Plant-lore, with illustrations, increased information on local names, & an attempt to try and record when and where beliefs & practices occurred.

Vickery’s Folk Flora was short-listed for the 2019 Katharine Briggs Folklore Award.

 Roy Vickery, 9 Terrapin Court, Terrapin Road, London SW17 8QW.


blackstock triangle gardeners        community gardening

In 2009 gardener, writer & photographer Naomi Schillinger helped set up a community gardening scheme at the other end of our North London street, involving over 100 households. The front gardens, window boxes & flower-filled tree pits of these community gardeners have been an inspiration for the rest of us.

On this website Naomi keeps details of the scheme & great photos of the gardeners celebrating what they have grown on ‘Cake Sunday’ get-togethers over the last decade. She lists other recommended websites on her gardening blog, & looks at gardens further afield that are worth a visit.


‘Sadly, due to the Corona Virus, our Spring ‘Cake Sunday’ community get-together has had to be postponed to a later date and our May 2020 Chelsea Fringe Dog Show, again, will be hopefully taking place next year, in 2021.

However, we are still planning to distribute seeds, plants and compost to neighbours wherever possible, as we see ‘growing your own’ as even more important right now in helping to keep our community spirits high.’




bbct logo

The BBCT is a small independent charity that works to help native Bumblebees, who are in decline. Creative fundraising ideas from its membership help the Trust raise public awareness, evolving plans to help Bumblebees. To read more about The BBCT, go to our drop-down menu for the What You Can Do – For Bees page. See their website for details about their work, how to become a member or sign up for their free e-newsletter.

Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Beta Centre, Stirling University Innovation Park, FK9 4NF


Dave Goulson, scientist, author & founder of The Bumblebee Trust, has downloaded a number of videos. Gardeners will enjoy seeing ‘The Bumblebee Professor’ in his own UK garden (various bee-frendly hotels & a personable turkey) & his wildflower meadow in France.

Dave Goulson‘s books include A Sting in the Tale, A Buzz in the Meadow, Silent Earth, The Garden Jungle & Gardening for Bumblebees   You can find Dave‘s recommended bee-friendly flowers on his website The best garden flowers for bees : Resources :  Goulson Lab  




BUGLIFE LOGOSaving the small things that run the planet

   The Invertebrate Trust

Buglife is a small charity that campaigns to protect bugs and the environment. It involves people in conservation action, learning about and enjoying bugs. Its website includes an e-newsletter, a UK bug map, events, activities, info for schools and young insect lovers, & a bug identifier (What’s that bug?)

No Insectinction is a short youtube video listing 5 things you can do to reverse insect decline. It is Buglife’s prescription for healing our planet… To watch it go to their website:


This is an online identification guide to True Bugs, of which there are nearly 2,000 species in the UK. The website has a gallery of bugs & information on recording, identifying & going further in bug investigation. Illustrations of UK Shieldbugs & their instars by Ashley Wood accompany the guide.

Woundwort Shieldbug on our garden hose, identified from Ashley Wood’s illustrations & the high definition photos of the guide.


butterfly-conservation-logoThis UK-based charity works to save native butterflies & moths from extinction. Through surveys, monitoring & research it promotes gardening that is moth & butterfly-friendly, with advice on conserving & restoring natural habitats vital to butterfly & moth life-cycles.

The free monthly newsletter All-Aflutter has the latest butterfly & moth news, species to look out for, gardening tips & special offers. Photo galleries & A-Z listings on their website can help you identify butterflies & moths :

Butterfly Conservation, Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset EH20 5QP.


plume-moth-amblyptilia-acanthadactyla-on-teasel-stalkjuly-2014These tiny T-shaped moths have been plentiful in our garden. They have multiple wings that tuck in under each other when at rest, & they fly in a quirky way – describing corkscrews or zigzags in the air before landing on the underside of a leaf. We have had the occasional Plume Moth whose wings look like swirly sand sculptures, & there have been a few white Plume Moths… But our most seen species is Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, with wings & thorax covered with a stencil design. Wikipedia says it is also seen in Iran and Georgia.




bto_logoThis independent charity does research into biodiversity, especially where it concerns birds. Its members, with over 40,000 volunteers & partner organisations, work with scientists to record details of everything from badgers to butterflies, but this is a ‘birds-first’ organisation. BTO  publishes journals, including BTO News for members and Bird Table for participants in their Garden Birdwatch Project, in which volunteers keep a weekly record of how many birds they see in their garden.

 BTO free resources projects include The Birdbox Project, which works with teachers to link live footage from video cameras in birdboxes around the UK and Europe. You do not need to register to watch the videos, but if you want to put out a live video from a birdbox in your school, this webpage will help you organise & set it up:

For birdhouse building, siting & cleaning, & how to deter predators, go to


RSPB logo

The RSPB is a major UK charitable organisation working to improve the welfare of birds in this country & abroad.

Some familiar British birds are migrants who spend part of each year in other countries. Hunting & changes to the climate & their living places abroad have left many birds facing danger & death once they leave the UK. The RSPB campaigns with partner organisations abroad to improve the welfare of all birds.

For more on the RSPB, see the What You Can Do – For Birds page on the drop-down menu.

Go to

RSPB, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL



Founded in 1994 in the country town of Wem, Shropshire, this specialist supplier of wild bird-related products delivers birdfood, birdhouses, feeders & other accessories to your door. These items are included in their free feeding guide, along with season-related articles on birds, competitions & more.

Orders can be placed online from The Garden Bird website :

Garden Bird & Wildlife Co, Unit 9 Enterprise Court, Lancashire Enterprise Business Park, Leyland, PR26 6TZ



wildlife-trusts-icon There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts in England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. Their goal is to help nature recover from years of decline, “to inspire people about the natural world so that they value it, understand their relationship with it and take action to protect and restore it.”

A link on their website lets you ‘Raise money for your Wildlife Trust – buy your birdfood from Vine House Farm.’  Every sale of birdfood, bird houses, feeders & accessories from wildlife-friendly Vine House Farm in Lincolnshire supports the Wildlife Trusts. Delivery is free, & the Trusts receive an additional £5 from your first purchase.


FOE work with local groups, experts, business leaders, politicians – campaigning to protect the world we live in. Those taking part in FOE‘s Great British Bee Count for 2017 spotted 320,337 bees around the UK.


Friends of the Earth Great British Bee Count will not be taking place this year.. See the website for more information.


The Open University is the largest academic institution in the UK & a world leader in flexible distance learning. Its website, aimed at identifying anything in nature, is called iSpot. It encourages learning via social networking.

ISPOT is free to join. Share wildlife photos from your camera or phonecam along with the location where you took them & contribute to the picture of nature across the UK. If you use a digital camera, your photo’s date will automatically be recorded along with other photo data.


jorvik-viking-festival-logoJORVIK VIKING CENTRE

Because of our neighbourhood’s possible Viking connections (See our Vikings at the Bottom of our Gardens? page) we follow events in the North of England, where this Centre was built in York on the site of a 1,000 year-old Viking town.

Each year at February Half Term  Jorvik & the York Archaelogical Trust host Jolablot, the ancient Viking festival heldto herald the coming of spring and the survival of winter hardships’. Over 40,000 visitors come to this, the largest Viking Festival in Europe, attracted by its atmosphere & family-friendly events. Volunteers come to York from all over the globe to take part in combat reenactment.

The Battle of Carham . 2018 . lighthouse movie show / Combat reenactment sample




Jolablot 2016 with The Vagabrothers
As part of their road trip across the north of England, the brothers assume their roles as market traders, interview King Canute & the Saxon King on battle plans, & enjoy the beer, the beards & the combat reenactment.


Jolablot 2018
Events included Have-a-Go Archery & Sword Combat, Viking Age Crafting, & Little Diggers with Ivar the Boneless & his Viking Army. Brew York launched Ragnar’s Revenge – a beer based on Sahti, a historic Finnish ale brewed with traditional ingredients including juniper, fennel & rosemary. The Watlington Hoard of Viking era silver, saved for the nation by the Ashmolean Museum, was brought to York for the festival & remained at Jorvik until 21st May.
Jorvik Festival 2018: March Down Stonegate – YouTube ~


Jolablot 2020 

 Voyages of the Vikings was the theme of Jolablot 36. It was held during a week of wild weather as Storm Dennis battered the country with rain & high winds.  This is one young couple’s video of their visit to York for the Festival.
kodalenpartyof2   Jorvik Viking Festival


 2021 was the first time in 35 years that York did not held its Viking Festival. An alternative event was devised –That JORVIK Viking Thing was a hybrid of online activity, including livestreamed Viking-themed events, storytelling & an online version of its annual JORVIK Viking Symposium, with smaller scale tours & a traders’ market in the city centre.

Safe and socially distanced visits may now be booked online or by calling 01904 615505. Face coverings are currently required inside all JORVIK group attractions in line with Government guidelines.




Coffeehouse print, Pepys era, from Dr Matthew Green, The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse

Once a month Dr Matthew Green conducts walking tours through historical London. His Lost World of the London Coffeehouse tour, mentioned on our Highbury Barn page, includes actors, musicians & free shots of 17th Century style coffee – ‘black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love!’ The tour is an immersive journey through the labyrinthine alleys & secret courtyards of the City of London, investigating its original – & best – coffeehouses. ‘Meet Charles ll and furious tavern-keepers along the route.”

Walking tours are pre-booked & last 1 hour and 30 minutes. Currently:  Coffeehouse Tour, A Gin Tour of London, Medieval Wine Tour. There is also a course – A History of London, & a 2-hr audio tour, The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse. This can be downloaded as an audio file with Dr Green‘s narration, performances by 13 actors, & broadside ballads woven into the performance. Join the UCA mailing list & receive their newsletter. For details of tour availability, private tours & more, go to




gillespie-park-wild-carrot-and-knapweed-front-gates-on-drayton-park-rdThis is a group of volunteers dedicated to protecting & enhancing Gillespie Park, a natural wildllife park & Local Nature Reserve in Islington, North London. They were involved in saving the reserve’s land from development, & work to maintain its special nature for the community. Visit their website to read more about them & possibly consider becoming a Friend yourself.



The Spriggan, a sculpture by Marilyn Collins

The Parkland Walk is a Local Nature Reserve between Haringey & Islington in North London. Now a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, it follows the course of a railway line which ran between Finsbury Park & Alexandra Palace. Since the line’s final closure in 1970, many trees & wildflowers have colonised the Parkland Walk, & wildlife is plentiful here. For more, see our Worth A Visit tab on the drop-down menu.

For Wikipedia‘s extensive entry for this Nature Reserve,  go here.

Other websites :  Londonist‘s text & pictures include the highs & the lows of this, London’s longest nature reserve. The Friends of the Parkland Walk site shows how many people care about the reserve & what is involved in keeping it up.


This family-friendly Islington charity offers the chance to experience a working farm in the heart of London. At the animal village, where rabbits, chickens & a goat live in painted Wendy houses, children have the opportunity to not only stroke the animals but feed & groom many of them too. The farm has a range of rare animals & many fun things to see and do. School visits are welcomed.

 Nicola Baird interviewed some of those working at the farm for her Islington Faces Blog, which includes photos:

  You can volunteer or sponsor an animal. To find out what’s happening on the farm now, visit our website for details:

Whats on — Freightliners City Farm › new-events


The farm is currently open to the public on a limited and pre-booked basis

Wednesdays from 2pm-4pm

Weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) 11am-3pm

The cafe is currently closed.

Thanks to Covid-19 funding from the National Lottery Community Fund & the support of our regular funders London Borough of Islington & City Bridge Trust the farm is able to increase activities delivered remotely during the lockdown period to help people learn, stay safe & keep well at home. A programme of remote education, learning & therapeutic activities including daily facebook live sessions, learning at home tasks, takeaway craft materials packs & farm zoom appointments is available through the educational activities pages & volunteer & community email updates.

Freightliners Farm, Sheringham Road, Islington, North London, Greater London N7 8PF


Released for Christmas 2018, this CD by Richard Rhys O’brien, local resident, singer/songwriter & economist, remembers & celebrates the Highbury Barn Pleasure Gardens. Richard composed 18 songs, based on 150 years of The Barn’s existence – all performed with friends from Highbury’s Eclectic Voices & musicians from the Harmony Orchestra. The CD, with its full colour 38-page booklet of illustrations, maps & song lyrics, raised over £3,500 for the Mayor’s charities.


In this book & website, Paul Talling investigates waterways which once flowed freely through the capital but have been overwhelmed by its growth.

The author conducts guided walks of London’s lost rivers, streams, canals, docks & wharves, much enjoyed by those who have gone on one. Tickets, limited to 20 per walk, always sell out in advance. Next walk scheduled for September, the River Fleet. See website for  guided walks mailing list & booking form.

“The time estimate of walks is very rough as I’m in no hurry and these usually result in a social in the pub afterwards. These walks go ahead regardless of the weather – rain or shine, heatwave or arctic conditions! Please note that they are wholly above ground and there will be no subterranean trips down to the sewers! … I have public liability insurance. Well behaved dogs and children are welcome on all tours.”   “Paul Talling

London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling, 2006 (ISBN: 9781847945976) 




TREE LORE : Elder/Order of Bards and Druids