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Summer garden parties

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 July 2014

Open your garden for a summer tea event. Photo: Adam Cormack

Open your garden for a summer tea event. Photo: Adam Cormack

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For Somerset Wildlife Trust's golden anniversary year the charity is encouraging people to open their gardens and help raise £50 a go by holding a tea party

Secretly most of us love a chance to share our gardens, but at the same time feel very apprehensive, writes Penny Richards from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Gardening for Wildlife Group:

I know I’ll be anxious to have as many plants in flower as possible, buzzing with bees or hoverflies and with plenty of butterflies floating through!

I’ll make sure there are a good number of wildflowers in evidence grown as a seed source for the birds plus areas of long grass for their seedheads. It’s always lovely to have a range of scents around and I’ll hope to have some rambling and climbing roses covered with their beautiful fragrant flowers.

The organic vegetable garden will need some special planning with plenty of companion planting in evidence!

Here are some ideas for things you might like to do to make your tea party a ‘wild’ success!

• Have a plan of your garden available with key areas shown and possibly some labels on special plants or features. People are generally really keen to know about the development of a garden and the full names of the key plants. Perhaps the best plants for wildlife could be highlighted with stars and a note of what you’ve found they are particularly good for.

• You could include a list of some of the birds, insects and other visitors you’ve had through the year.

• Highlight some of the special areas you’ve created such as log piles, stone walls, insect homes, or safe places for hedgehogs. Visitors will always be interested in how you’ve tackled these different ways of attracting wildlife into the garden.

• To make the most of all your planting areas you can sow annual wildflower seeds amongst the perennials e.g. corn marigolds, cornflowers and poppies, adding lots of colour and interest.

• If at all possible, and this may be a very difficult one for many gardeners, leave some of the lawn uncut, mowing paths through instead. The result will really add to the interest of the garden while saving you time. You might end up with the lovely summery sound of grasshoppers to accompany your tea!

• What about potting up some cuttings and having some plants for sale? Everyone loves to acquire new plants for their garden, especially if they’ve seen the plants in situ and know that they’re good for wildlife.

• Cut flowers are always really popular yet so expensive to buy so why not set aside an area of your garden to grow some plants just for cutting. As well as the more obvious choices, like sweet peas and cosmos, you could try growing some cornflowers, scabious clary sage, red valerian, yarrow and salvias with herbs like feverfew or marjoram, which will make wonderful mixed bouquets while being good for insects before they’re cut! You can use some as table decorations on the day.

• Why not set up a little wildlife treasure trail to keep any children visiting interested? Even easier would be a scavenger hunt where you just ask them to collect certain things or record what they found. If you do have a pond then it would be fun to have a few of the invertebrates on view in a deep tray.

Whether you open your garden this summer or favour other fundraising activities, like cake sales and sponsored walks, raising £50 for wildlife will help make the trust’s 50th anniversary a landmark year for investing in local conservation projects.

You can download a copy of the 50 ways to raise £50 fundraising pack at somersetwildlife.org/50. Or you can call 01823 652400 or email enquiries@somersetwildlife.org

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