Explore nature in our flourishing Wildlife Garden, a tranquil haven for plants and animals in the heart of the city.
The garden is home to thousands of British flora and fauna. More than 3,130 species have been identified in the garden since it opened in 1995.
The Wildlife Garden is open daily from 1 April to 2 November, 10.00-17.00, with regular free family events.
Please note: the main entrance to the Wildlife Garden is closed until 11 October. For entry via an alternative route, please follow signs from the Darwin Centre Courtyard.
From November to March, the garden is open by appointment by calling +44 (0)20 7942 5000, or simply turn up to the Museum and speak with a Visitor Assistant who will arrange it to be opened.
You can learn more about our Wildlife Garden on the Museum's blog.
What can you see in summer?
- Dragonflies are increasing as they emerge from the water. Electric-blue azure damselflies are most common (though they are dull beige when they first emerge), with large red damselflies and blue-tailed damselflies also around the main pond.
- Hairy dragonflies are a small spring hawker dragonfly. They were seen in May for the very first time and are now breeding. They are small and dark with blue spots on the abdomen. The emperor dragonfly is Britain's bulkiest dragonfly and will fly through July and August, while the hairy dragonflies will fade out after mid-summer.
- Bees are everywhere, including leaf-cutter bees and common carder bees. We might see the uncommon yellow loosestrife bee once its namesake plant is flowering near the reed bed.
- Look for common spotted orchids in the meadows and chalk downland and check flowers for insects such as the metallic green swollen-thighed beetle.
- Look for a very tall plant (up to two metres) with arrow-shaped leaves at the corner of the boardwalk. It has small yellow thistle-like flowers and is a marsh sow-thistle, a rare wetland species. The ones in the garden were saved from a development site.
- Butterflies include meadow browns, brimstones, speckled woods and holly blues. Some bright coloured 'butterflies' are actually moths such as the cinnabar and six-spot burnet – both fly by day over the grasslands and meadows and are beautifully coloured in green, black and red.
- It's the Year of the Fly, so have a look for wasp-mimic hoverflies around flowers and by the pond. Hoverflies are harmless and, unlike wasps, have only one pair of wings. Later in the summer the hornet hoverfly, Britain's largest, should be around.
- Fledgling birds are begging their parents for food.
- Moorhen chicks can be seen following their parents in the pond area. The remaining chick from the first brood is now helping raise its parents' second brood. Keep your eyes open for swifts catching insects overhead.