Digital Wildlife Garden

In 2021 we were grateful to receive a Fat Beehive Foundation grant to fund virtual activity to support our physical climate change garden for the future.
Much of the physical work involves planting the garden to realise the design drawn up by Fiona Cloke in 2020, engaging with schools for both junior and foundation children, environmental volunteers and helping to support the mental health and wellbeing of the community that has been hugely impacted by COVID-19.
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The original plan for our Climate Change Project


We initially secured a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to convert a piece of waste ground into a Climate Change “Garden of the Future”.  


We worked with Renew Wales and Social Farms and Gardens and set up three working parties’ meetings between November 2019 and February 2020.  We used the expertise of David Thorpe, a climate change academic and practitioner to generate priorities and Landscape Architect Fiona Cloke to help us translate these into a design and plan of action.  

As the project developed, a core team of our members took on responsibility for taking the garden to the next stage: Chris, Ann, Dawn, Kairen, Ian and Rosemary led on these activities and supported participation from the wider community.
 

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During the next stage we secured resources and support from Keep Wales Tidy. This included some hard landscaping materials, compost bins, a water butt, a greenhouse and some fruit trees and bushes. Chris, Ruth, Louise, Phil and Katherine are pictured here as part of this work. 
       

It was at this stage and in the middle of the first lockdown that we started to think more widely about our climate change garden and how it can reach more people, how it could be digitalised to enable those isolating or confirmed to their homes – to enjoy our garden as much as those that are able to walk around it. 


A Digital Wildlife Garden to bring joy, learning and ideas to more people, as part of a sustainable ripple through our community.

As a charity working towards improving and supporting our community we have always focussed on our direct environment and linked this to wider environmental issues, climate change and sustainability as a whole. Working with the Fat Beehive Foundation we have been able to bring our work to a whole new digital community.  

People shielding, isolating or unable to get out and about can enjoy the climate change work and wildlife garden from the comfort of their own homes. 


We have installed a specialist motion activated nature camera and a time lapse camera. There are links to these to follow. We hope this new access to our natural world will bring opportunities for gardeners and virtual gardeners to equally shape and develop our garden – to grown and learn and educate others. 

And as the physical garden develops, it can be enhanced by wider information accessed online though this portal. We invite virtual gardeners to share facts, information, real stories, videos and photos of your own planting, growing and knowledge. We would love virtual gardeners to be part of the shaping of the garden and invite anyone to get in touch.

If you would like to focus on an area of the garden, research information on the plants, or give ideas on what else we could be doing, we can then share these online and with our gardeners. 


We hope this technology can add more depth, a level of detail, and an opportunity for everyone to contribute and add photos or ideas for small changes to make a difference.

 
We hope you will get involved and share your ideas, knowledge, garden with us! 
 

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Please see below some contributions from our
members and volunteers:

 

Our Copper Beech Trees

 

- A contribution from Katherine Hughes -

Our four copper beech trees are a recognisable feature of the Caerphilly Miners Centre and add to the grace of our building.  The trees are between 60 and 100 years old and there are tree preservation orders on all of them.  

Trees are important for the wellbeing of our environment and community. The gardening group members feel responsible for sustaining them for future generations. 

We were concerned about the health of one of the trees and so bought in Arborist Julian Wilkes to advise us.  

 

Three of the trees look healthy, but the tree we were concerned with lies at the lower end of our raised beds. This area was left with rubble from demolished buildings and the tree has suffered accordingly.  Julian and our gardening volunteer Janet Cornwall discussed the state of the tree.

 

Julian informed us that the tree has around 8 metres of root system surrounding it and these roots need protecting from the weight of compacted rubble.  

 

He listened to our plans for shuttering the terraces and
suggested that we amend our plans to create either a Gabian
Wall (stones to stabilise the slope) or a ‘no cement’ wall with
stakes driven down at intervals rather than a continuous
trench foundation.  

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Julian also looked at the other three trees.  Two posed no cause for concern, but the big tree near the old bus shelter shows early signs of a fungus Ganoderma (the white on the picture on the right).  This will eventually weaken the trunk.  

 

We learned that the copper beech crown of the tree had been grafted onto a beech tree and this had also caused weakness leading the trunk to become enlarged.  This tree could have another 30 years of life ahead of it, but we were advised to consider planting new copper beech trees or allowing the saplings to develop.  

The value of trees

Trees are both beautiful and majestic.  No two are alike. They vary their appearance throughout the year as the seasons change.  

They give people a pleasant, relaxed and comfortable feeling, reducing heat and increasing our quality of life.

Trees contribute to the environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, conserving water, stabilising and preserving the soil, and storing carbon. 
They also support the world’s wildlife and provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.

Your stories, lessons, advice and interesting facts to share

  • Want to know more about Hugel Beds, how to build one and what we have done in our garden? See our case study: Building a Hugel Bed by Katherine Hughes
     

  • A bug hotel is a creative and natural way of supporting wildlife.
    Find out more about our Bug Hotel. by Janet Cornwall

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