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Getting Wild About Gardens

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Maureen Rainey, Ali Corbel and Malcolm Moore from Sittingbourne in Bloom

This week I caught up with Maureen Rainey from the Kent Wildlife Trust who was at the Forum Shopping Centre along with members of Sittingbourne in Bloom and a host of other organisations including Optivo, Dartford Bee Keepers, Amethyst Horticulture and garden designer Sue Willmott who were all present to promote the idea of making your garden more wildlife friendly.

Kent Wildlife Trust are also currently promoting their ‘Wild About Gardens’ award scheme which is open to anyone who has or is developing a wildlife friendly garden in Kent.

Maureen explained “I work part time for Kent Wildlife Trust and I run the Wild about Gardens scheme, which is an award scheme with a difference. It’s very different to what Sittingbourne in Bloom do because the gardens don’t have to be finished and we can come out and give advice.”

Any size and type of garden, schools, community garden or even allotments are welcome to take part. Entry is free, but the Kent Wildlife Trust always welcome a donation towards their costs.

Maureen said “We want to encourage people with small gardens in urban areas, who don’t necessarily have a lot of money to take part. We are more about giving advice than giving an award." 

"People might say ‘oh my garden isn’t good enough’ but we say as long as they have started, we can’t come out if nothing has been done, but as long as they have just made a start then a volunteer will come out and offer advice if needed.”

“We call it an awards scheme because people like a celebration and we have a big celebration in the autumn and we invite everybody who entered. We have a talk about a couple of the winning gardens and the beginners can come and they can all talk to each other. If we were to simply come out and just give advice it would not be quite as exciting, and everybody likes a pat on the back and I think having that little bit of extra fun helps.”

The volunteer wildlife gardening advisors try and visit as many entries as they are able to during the summer months. Certificates are awarded for Gold, Silver Gilt, Silver and Bronze levels. Gold winners receive on of Kent Wildlife Trust’s coveted blue plaques.

There are also a number of special awards for the best gardens for wild birds, bats, bees, hedgehogs and pond life.

The closing date is 30th June and you can contact Maureen directly by emailing or call 01622 662012.

More information and an entry form can be found on their website

Andy Hudson


Showing comments 1 to 1 of 1


Hi Andy

I just wanted to add that this was a real community garden, it wouldn’t have happened without the support of local people, groups and businesses.

From its conception with designer Susan Willmott we wanted to create an affordable wildlife-friendly garden for everyone.

The one-metre square planters show what you can do in a very small space and that you can mix garden favourites with natives and edibles with great effect. 

With so many people now renting property, taking your garden with you is more important than ever.

The planters were created by local housing association Optivo,  Amethyst horticulture who are based in Lynsted and Newington provided most of the plants.
The Bob Fowler community allotment grew the vegetables and the meadow grass, Sittingbourne business Unipet provided the bird feeders, food and competition prizes, with the Dartford Beekeepers bringing us a hive for our centrepiece. Volunteers from Kent wildlife trust bought and created the pond which many people thought was a step too far- just shows what can be done- thanks to Judith for making this a reality!

The garden was all put together last Friday with the help of Swale Borough councils open spaces team, friends of Milton Creek country  park, Kent wildlife trust and Sittingbourne in Bloom, with The bumblebee conservation trust, Martin Keelor from Cromer woods and the Murston heart project all coming along on the day to provide crafts and advice.

A big thank you to everyone who stayed to clear the garden at the end of the day, it took less than an hour  and to Monica and her team in the forum shopping centre who was so accommodating.

I hope people were inspired to get out and grow.

Comment by ali Corbel on 15 May 2018
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