Blooming in Cricklepit Garden

Welcome to the latest blog by the Devon Wildlife Trust's volunteer Cricklepit Garden Group who look after the RHS award winning wildlife garden at the Trust's headquarters at Cricklepit Mill in Exeter.

Another year in the garden and another mixed bag of weather with some record breaking temperatures and so far this summer not much rain.  Although this has been challenging for our plants and wildlife it has enabled us to make good progress with our various projects.

The orchard now has a second wire which has enabled the apple and pear trees to be fully espaliered, although this is still very much an ongoing and delicate operation so as not to create too much stress on the new growth.  We have also added native perennials at the base of the trees, even though much of this is hidden at the moment by a previously mown perennial wildflower area that has decided to re emerge for another year!

We have also taken a new approach with our main wild flower meadow and instead of an annual cornflower mix we have sown a Culm grassland perennial mix that we received from one of our reserves.  So instead of clearing the ground on a yearly basis we will now just cut back twice a year and let nature take its course.

The Potager garden I am happy to say is more hit than miss this year thanks mainly to one of our volunteers who has an allotment and has shared the benefit of her experience.  Despite the lack of water and feral pigeons who have been enjoying tasty snacks of pea shoots and cabbages, most of our vegetables have survived.  In addition to this we have created a new planting area for soft fruits and have planted some raspberry and currant bushes surrounded by strawberries.  So far, we have had one raspberry which I am afraid to say I could not resist....and it was delicious!  Here's hoping for many more.

Water emperor dragonfly

Chris Root

After a long period, the Dragonfly Island is thankfully now nearing completion.  We finally cleared away the existing vegetation including bramble and bindweed and added membrane covered with slate chippings. Sedums have gone in, with some new grasses to follow to complement the existing dragonfly sculpture.

The woodland glade is probably the largest and costliest project the garden group has undertaken and is one of the last areas of the garden to be developed.  However, work is progressing well with a second phaseof mainly native shrubs, annuals and perennials being planted this spring and summer, with more to be added later this year as and when they become available.  

We try to ensure all our plants have either a slate or wooden name marker next to them so that they are easily identifiable by visitors to the garden.  There are also laminated sheets available in reception which detail the planting in the various beds and borders.

As you can see we have been very busy so far this year and at the time of writing we are hoping to achieve a fourth successive 'outstanding' certificate in this year's RHS "It's your Neighbourhood " awards.  So, fingers crossed and watch this space for more news in our next blog later in the year.

See below for ways you can garden for wildlife