Norfolk Wildlife Trust plan year-long nature survey of Bishop's Garden

Head gardener Sam Garland with the herbaceous borders of the Bishop's Garden which is opening as loc

Head gardener Sam Garland with the herbaceous borders of the Bishop's Garden Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

It is a slice of heaven in the middle of Norwich and a sanctuary for all creatures great and small.

The Right Reverend Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich, shares his private garden not only with the public on select dates, but also with a wealth of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates.

Bishop's Garden, Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Bishop's Garden, Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

And for the next year, Bishop Graham will also open up his beautiful garden with volunteers from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

As part of the Trust’s 95th anniversary year a survey of the garden is planned which will take a detailed look at the wildlife found in such an urban space.

In addition to discovering the secrets of the garden where the Bishops of Norwich have walked since 1100AD, and which is tended today by head gardener Sam Garland, the Trust will suggest ways that everyone in Norfolk can improve their gardens for wildlife.

Head gardener Sam Garland with the Hebe plant, grown from a cutting from Queen Victoria's wedding bo

Head gardener Sam Garland with the Hebe plant, grown from a cutting from Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet, in the Bishop's Garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Two NWT volunteers will visit the garden each month, in compliance with the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines, and record what they find, in particular the bees and butterflies which use the garden.

Details of all the records will be shared with Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service.

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden which is opening as lockdown restrictions are eased. Pic

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

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Findings will be shared in video clips and blog posts alongside tips about how everyone can help improve their outdoor space for wildlife.

The Trust will also be encouraging people to share their own garden wildlife updates with them via the NWT website and social media.

Sam was appointed to his role in 2019 and, with part-time assistant Glenn Trower and a small army of volunteers, tends the garden which is run organically and includes a herb garden, long herbaceous borders, a ‘jungle’ walk, a large wildflower labyrinth and a fruit orchard.

A view of Norwich from the Bishop's Garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A view of Norwich from the Bishop's Garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

It also boasts a small woodland walk and extensive shrubberies containing many rare and unusual plants, including a Hebe planted from a sprig taken from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet in 1840.

There is a kitchen garden, a bamboo walk and a plant sales area and conscious efforts are made to encourage wildlife, the latest of which include a ‘hedgehog hotel’, ‘deadhedges’ to encourage hibernating sites, nest boxes for birds and bats and bee hotels. New beds are planted with water conservation in mind.

Head gardener Sam Garland at work in the Bishop's Garden which is opening as lockdown restrictions a

Head gardener Sam Garland at work in the Bishop's Garden Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

A principal focus of Sam’s is to work with the Bishop of Norwich to initiate horticultural practices that raise the garden’s environmental credentials and make the garden a beacon of success for environmentally led horticulture.

Later this year the NWT plans to hold a community ‘BioBlitz’ open garden event at the Bishop’s House Garden.

There will be wildlife activities for all ages and the opportunity to take part in citizen science surveys in the garden. The event will raise money for NWT’s Children And Nature Programme, which delivers projects connecting children with the natural world.

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden which is opening as lockdown restrictions are eased. Pic

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Previous projects have included working with Norwich Foodbank to provide activities during school holidays and wildlife outreach sessions at Sure Start children’s centres in Norfolk, for the very young and their families and carers.

Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Pamela Abbott said: “This year Norfolk Wildlife Trust reaches its 95th anniversary and we are spending the year recognising the wonder of our local wildlife and how we can all take action to look after it.”  

Senior Wildlife and Community Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust Gemma Walker, added: “Never underestimate the importance of gardens for wildlife! Gardens have a vital role to play in providing food, shelter and space for a whole host of species.

A hedgehog on some grass

A hedgehog: Tom Marshall - Credit: Tom Marshall

“Join us this year in taking a closer look at your garden and make space for wildlife. No matter what size your garden, you will be amazed at the number of different animals and plants that call it home.”

Bishop Graham, who brought his hives and bees from his last posting and tends them at the garden in the shadow of the Cathedral wholeheartedly backed the project.

A row of beehives in a garden

The Bishop's Garden beehives: Luke Bryant - Credit: Luke Bryant

“It’s an immense privilege to be the present custodian of the historic Bishop’s House Garden and I am delighted that Norfolk Wildlife Trust is helping me to enhance its biodiversity,” he said.

“With a background as an ecologist, I see caring for God’s creation as a core part of living the Christian life. I hope this joint project will enable that to happen in this patch of God’s earth so that our visitors on summer open days can delight even more in the beauty and diversity of this garden.”

* Find out more about the Bishop’s Garden at www.dioceseofnorwich.org and visit NWT at www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk.

20 common garden species to look for:

1)         Common frog

2)         Grass snake

3)         Slow worm

4)         Blackbird

5)         Goldfinch

6)         Greenfinch

7)         Dunnock

8)         House sparrow

9)         Robin

10)       Song thrush

11)       Starling

12)       Wren

13)       Hedgehog

14)       Comma butterfly

15)       Broad-bodied chaser

16)       Elephant hawkmoth

17)       Peacock butterfly

18)       Red-tailed bumblebee

19)       Small tortoiseshell

20)       Tree bumblebee



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