Wildlife gardening in the Lake District

Narsissi © Kevin Line

Gardening in the Lake District, an introduction from Kevin Line

About my garden

Our woodland fell garden is ablaze with naturalised narcissi. The aspect faces west towards the mountain of Coniston Old Man. The peak of the woodland garden comprises oaksbirchholly and larch trees and a decomposing hollowed birch tree forms an ideal refuse for insect life. The flat top open area of the woodland garden is carpeted in areas with the outstanding moss common haircap (Polytrichum commune).This moss colonises in damp acidic conditions, is shade tolerant, and can be spotted in woodlands, bogs, ditches, heaths, and lake margins.

Studying mosses

If you have a hand lens, jewellers loupe or something similar, spend some time studying mosses at close quarters, it's absolutely fascinating looking at the intricate structures, an important aspect of all wildlife gardens. With patience looking through a lens, you will often see various forms of insect life.

Back to the woodland fell garden

Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) has self-seeded prolifically along the banks of the woodland garden. Scotch broom is a leguminous shrub in the family Fabaceae, native to western and central Europe. The shrub produces sweet pea structured yellow flowers from spring into summer, a magnet for the bees, and I will be observing with a challenge to recognise the various bee species this year. The small holly trees will provide berries for foraging birds throughout the winter months.

Butterflies

I have started to sight butterflies, the first being that of the peacock at the very foot of the woodland garden, adjacent to our main garden. The adult butterfly has a life cycle of 10-12 months, hibernating in autumn, emerging in spring until May, with a flight period from July to autumn.

Trees

Trees are fascinating. It’s during these very difficult times that we realise of how much the value trees are alongside other plant life which dictates our very survival. During these extremely difficult and upsetting times keeping our distance from one another, we have all needed to computer network socially, adapt our approach, and come together in order to survive. Trees function in much the same way, as with the varying species of trees in our woodland wildlife garden. Old tree stumps often survive due to social networking between roots and beneficial fungi; a fight for survival. Trees also have incredible defence mechanisms against leaf chewing insects, either releasing toxins to deter insects, or attracting beneficial predators to feed on the marauding insects. May be too, nature can find a way for us. 
 
I will be further recording and photographing the fauna and flora within the woodland fell garden as the seasons progress. In addition, I look forward to sharing wildlife gardening projects and countryside observations with you. Whatever garden space you may have, large or small, I encourage you, more now than ever before, to get out into it, even if just to stand, listen, watch, and to heal. You might be surprised at what you see.

Kevin Line is a Plantsperson, Head Gardener, and Conservationist, who has worked in horticulture for a lifetime. Kevin's background includes:

  • Glasshouse crop production
  • Freelance gardener
  • Undergardener, Buscot Park, National Trust, Oxfordshire
  • Assistant Head Gardener, BBC Gardeners World Garden, Stratford Upon Avon
  • Head Gardener, North Cotswolds, (National Gardens Scheme)
  • Plantsperson, currently developing two country house hotel gardens, one of which is the Ryebeck Hotel, Bowness On Windermere, developing a wildlife garden and opening it for the National Gardens Scheme.

Kevin is a member of Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation, RSPB, Hardy Plant Society, International Lilac Society (USA), Royal Horticultural Society, National Trust. 
Volunteer Gardener for the National Health Service, 2017, ongoing.

Kevin has contributed articles for the past 11 years for specialist and populist gardening magazines and journals, he has been the stand-in writer on Plant Focus features for the industry magazine Horticulture Week since 2013. Kevin currently contributes to the National Grow Your Own magazine on the concept of Vegan Gardening.