‘Meadow-style gardens are a haven for wildlife’

May 16, 2013


GREEN FINGERED: Steve Watts of Unique Purbeck Gardens at a Wimborne client’s garden that has been transformed from an empty shell devoid of life into an oasis.

Short Tufted grass

DIVERSE HABITAT: The area of the garden that has been developed around the Tufted hair grass.

Broader picture


WILDLIFE HAVEN: The wildlife-friendly garden in Wimborne that boasts hedgehogs amongst its residents.




A GARDEN designer has helped turn a Leyland-cypress dominated back garden space into a haven for  wildlife.

Steve Watts of Swanage has a degree in landscape design and a post-graduate diploma from Sheffield University and has honed his skills on gardens as far away as Sheffield and Kent, along with Dorset too.

He has trained with the Royal Horticultural Society too and gained invaluable experience working with the National Trust team at Kingston Lacy House, near Wimborne.

Steve’s training enables him to be prepared to meet the challenges of all the different seasons and to assess gardens according to their needs of soil-type; shade and sun levels and exposure.

When this blog caught up with Unique Purbeck Gardens this week, Steve was keeping an eye on a gardening conservation project that he has been involved with for two years with a client in Wimborne

The previous owner had allowed Leyland Cypress hedges to run riot and they had to be felled and the new owner had to start a new chapter in the garden’s history.

The new space features a meadow style with Tufted hair grass – planted two years ago. The grass shoots up in little clumps and provides perfect cover for insects such as bees and butterflies.

Interspersed with the Tufted hair grass, are perennials such as Rudbeckia, Salvia, Verbena, Globe thistle, poppies and bluebells.  Flowers such as forget-me-knots have self-seeded. The garden is completely organic and no fertilisers are used.

Steve said: “I find a mixture of native and exotic species makes it more interesting and diverse.

“To make the garden wildlife friendly you only have to look at the Olympic park as part of it is of a meadow-style. The challenge is to get people to look at the meadow style.

“Some people are obsessed with short grass. I find it looks better to have some areas more like a prairie-style.  It costs lots to cut the grass every week.  Short grass is fine in the right areas but not everywhere.”

Steve’s client told this blog that her garden has undergone an amazing transformation in the past two years and seeing the pictures of what it looked like then to what it is now proved quite a contrast.

Her garden provides a welcome home to a pair of hedgehogs. Hedgehogs have been under threat in recent years and their numbers have been reducing alarmingly.

A recent report in a national newspaper suggested that they had reduced by 300,000 in a decade and 50,000 annually were killed by traffic. Intensive agriculture with no wildlife corridors on the edges of fields had reduced the amount of prey they could feed on.

Garden owners in suburban areas, she said, must take the opportunity to allow tiny gaps in their fences to help hedgehogs to travel through gardens to feed. The small mammals can’t burrow very well and any artificial help to enable them to overcome this obstacle will be a boon for them.

Steve’s client also said that when putting food out for her bird feeders she has kept some of it back which contains dried fruit. Dried fruit is not good for a canine pallet, as much as chocolate is. Any bird feed with dried fruit is cordoned off in a bird-feeding area which is dog-proof.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chris August 29, 2013 at 11:23 am

A good read, thank you.

I thought I’d point you in the direction of this site as they have some advice about landscaping a garden to attract wildlife but specifically get the most out of watching wild birds.



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