The Wildlife Garden is home to 1000s of British plant and animal species throughout the seasons. Here are some of the many highlights.
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Dragonflies, moorhens, moths, butterflies, foxes, robins, marsh marigolds, primroses, lime, hornbeam, and even sheep are just some of the abundant species that live in and visit the garden.
The garden is full of small birds collecting nesting material – dead plant stalks, leaves, moss, feathers and sheep’s wool. Birds also weave pieces of string and plastic litter into their nests. Look out for blackbirds, robin, wrens, moorhens, finches and tits. This summer our family of moorhens gave birth to one brood.
Eight of the 20 or more British species of bumblebee can be found in the garden. All have an important role to play like this common buff-tailed bumblebee species. Some bumblebees are under threat and need all the help they can get.
Get a glimpse of our thriving honey bee colony inside the Wildlife Garden's bee tree. The bees' new home is carved into an oak that came to us from The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire.
We've been keeping bees in the garden for a decade and in the height of the summer months our bee colony can be 50,000 strong. Be aware that there will be bees buzzing around outside the tree. And please remember to close the tree doors when you’re finished peeping in as bees like the dark.
Azure and common blue damselflies appear from late May. Their larvae are pond-dwellers living on midge larvae and water lice. Look out for blue-tailed and large red damselflies, too.
Children can get more out of their visit to the Wildlife Garden with our Explorer backpacks. The activity book will help them make discoveries in the garden's different habitats, or they can simply get into the role of explorer with a safari hat and magnifying glass.
Borrow a self-led Explorer backpack from the Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall) information desk.
Look for the bright yellow flowers of marsh marigolds around pond edges, ditches and marshy areas from March to May. They’re a good nectar source for insects and part of a vital wetland habitat.
The striking lime hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae) is thriving on the large lime tree in the centre of the Wildlife Garden. It can have a wingspan of 80 mm. The male varies in colour from pink to olive-green (as above). The female is light pink to red-brown. Lime hawkmoths rest during the day to avoid being spotted by birds.
Each year we have foxes set up a breeding den, called an earth, in the Wildlife Garden. The fox cubs are generally tucked away out of sight, but in the early morning and evening the adult foxes can sometimes be seen delivering food to their babies.
Our Greyface Dartmoor sheep come to the Wildlife Garden in late summer to graze the meadows and trample the fallen plant seeds into the soil. They now play an important part in the ecology of the garden. They stay for about 6 weeks to 2 months in the Wildlife Garden and spend the rest of the year at the London Wetland Centre. Honey, Bella and Bee are currently munching their way through the meadows’ long grass.