Open gardens inspired by the Wilder Churches initiative

23rd May 2023

Inspired by the Wilder Churches initiative  run by Bath and Wells together and the Somerset Wildlife Trust with the aim of supporting the biodiversity in Somerset's churchyards, three gardening neighbours in Church Street, Lopen (near South Petherton) have sought to rewild their gardens and on 24 June are opening them to the public to encourage and inspire others.

The three gardens vary slightly in size; one is 3 acres, the second 1 acre and the third is quite small, showcasing what can be achieved in different spaces. Revd Annie Gurner is one of those who will be opening her garden to the public, she says ‘It’s part of my to celebrate God’s wonderful creation. It is something I am very passionate about and have enjoyed making a place which encourages wildlife and biodiversity to grow and thrive.’

The gardeners are hoping to showcase, in a small way the things that can be achieved in everyone’s garden. They’ll show rainwater harvesting, composting, a wildflower meadow, as well as habitat provision for birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians. Revd Annie says, ‘ the mammals just show up!’

Working in the garden with biodiversity in mind the gardeners have chosen their planting for pollinators, have thought about water sources, and paid attention to the value of neglected areas. Where possible sustainable energy has been used, for example power tools used in the garden are charged using solar energy. 

According to the Woodland Trust, ‘The UK's native woods and trees are incredibly biodiverse. They support many different species of fungi, lichens, mosses and plants.’ Inspired by their value for wildlife the gardeners in Lopen have chosen to plant native trees where they can. 

Revd Annie, whose garden St Oswalds, is also one of Somerset's Quiet Gardens and is designed for lots of people to sit privately to enjoy nature in different areas, says that on the open day in June  the gardeners will be on hand to answer questions and chat to visitors about anything from conservation grazing, to beekeeping, upcycling and growing your own food.

Join the next Wilder Churches training session 'Wilder Churches: An introduction to wildflower ID' on Tuesday 27 June. This is a great opportunity to get to know some of the wildflowers and other plants that occur in churchyards. Please book.

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