Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Calling All Birds and Bees

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Calling All Birds and Bees

Article excerpt


Create an environment for wildlife and bring the country into your town garden, says Corinne Julius

WATCHING wildlife at play as you sip a gin and tonic on the patio is one of the best ways of winding down after a hard day at the office.

While enthusiasm for encouraging the birds and the bees back into the garden seems attractive in principle, in practice a flower-studded meadow in a large country garden is rather different from the tangled, wild mess that often passes as wildlife gardening in some London plots. All too frequently, gardens intended to encourage wildlife look more like bomb sites and have the neighbours tutting over the fence.

"But a wildlife garden doesn't have to be messy," says award-winning garden designer Julie Toll. "It really can be quite ordered. It's the way that you garden and what you put in it, rather than the way you arrange it, that makes it wildlife-friendly."

Toll has made her reputation designing gardens with a wild theme. Her Seaside garden was awarded the coveted prize for the best garden at Chelsea in 1993, and in 1997 she won a gold medal for "A garden richer in wildlife" at Hampton Court.

Her endorsement of gardens that do not look wild might seem surprising, but, she says: "Many people want to encourage birds and mini beasts into their garden, but they don't like that disordered feel, especially in a small London garden, which is often designed to flow out from the house. By choosing what and where you plant with care, and by not using chemicals, wildlife will enjoy your garden."

A case in point is the wildlife pool she designed for the garden of 10 Downing Street, hardly the site for an abandoned, wild look.

"Space was limited and I couldn't pinch too much of the formal lawn. And the pond had to be safe for Leo. So the terrace adjacent to the upper balcony and the Cabinet Room became the axis for a formal, three-quarter-circle pond.

It forms the centrepiece of a circular wildlife garden."

Her design, which looks rather like a pie with a slice removed, is built partly surrounded by a steep bank, and partly by a cobbled beach, with a drilled boulder dribbling water into the pool. …

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