Words by Jessica Peace
Fancy knowing a bit about wildlife gardening? You’d better get yourself down to Peckham - you heard.
PECKHAM WILD STYLE
What was once a disused depot is about to celebrate its 30th birthday this summer (we remember the feeling) as London Wildlife Trust’s ‘Centre for Wildlife Gardening’.
This slab of concrete was first cracked into by some green fingered and muddy kneed neighbours along with the Trust, greening up Peckham’s grey and planting saplings to replace the trees devastated by the Great Storm of 87.
BIRD HIDES, BEEHIVES AND HAPPENING BEDS
What have they not got stuffed into this little patch of Peckham? They’ve got bird hides, where they’ve seen woodpeckers and sparrowhawks; honey producing beehives; a small meadow sown from seeds collected in chalk grasslands; and ponds and insect hotels with celebs checking in like the illusive icumen wasp.
Using permaculture values and showing us how to do food and flower without the chemicals, there is every kind of ‘garden’ planted into the raised beds and rooves: rain, dry, forest, herb, veg patch; even a mini version of ‘The Great North Wood’ made of its saplings.
If you’ve got a thing for toads and frogs you’ll be thrilled to know that 260 toads and 50 frogs hung out here last year (they’ve had a population decline of 70% in the last 30 years!!!).
Oh, and there’s a bat called Howard.
Wildest wild flower there…
The ‘Corky-fruited water-dropwort’
“WHAT CAN WE DO FOR WILDLIFE?”... “SHARE”
CWG don’t just care about the wildlife in their gaff, they’re up for helping us out with ours to. If you need some help you can go down to the centre and ask their expert Sylvia Myers, or give the centre a call. But, if you’re in Southwark and setting up your own community garden then Sylia will come down and help you keep it wild - what a woman!
Over a cuppa with Sylvia we learnt a few tricks ourselves on keeping it wild…
PLANT A TREE - native is good, or a fruit tree to give the birds and the bees some energy.
ADD WATER - Nature needs a tipple too.
LEAVE OUT SOME DEADWOOD - for crawly things, newts and toads to kick back under and fungi to grow on top.
LEARN TO LOVE - when that snail wolfs down your hostas, think about what a snail brings to your garden… and learn to SHARE.
NO PAVING - don’t even think about it mate.
Basically, just KEEP IT GREEN (and add flower for colour).
STUFF TO DO
One of the best things about this place is there’s stuff for everyone, all ages and abilities; whether you just want a bit of a sanctuary, to volunteer, or take yourself or your kids to a free or VERY cheap event. Have a nose here (you’ll bump into some of us at ‘Toad Day’...)
Ooh, and have a gander at The Great North Wood Project.
WHERE IS IT AGAIN?
5 minutes walk from East Dulwich Railway or 15 minutes from Peckham Rye.
40, 176, 185, 484 and P13 all stop near it.
WHEN CAN I COME?
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday 10.30am to 4.30pm.
Centre number for your wildlife gardening questions… 020 3897 6151.