In 2017 Katie started working on a small open space, to make it interesting and also wildlife friendly and has been amazed by the positive response and support from local residents as she has worked on the space. ''Being outside and working in a local community garden is a great way to chat to your neighbours and make new friends''. Several local residents have volunteered here over the past few years, so I am continuing the work they had previously started.
Initially, I called Becky from Kingdom of Sticks to get some advice on starting and she was able to come out to the site and advise on ways to approach setting up. She helped me kick start by finding out who the land belongs to, then by putting me in touch with the land owner, in this case the local council. Becky has a good relationship with the council so it was easy to set up a site visit with the parks manager and give a reference to the council on my behalf, assuring them that I would manage the space appropriately.
Now I have those established links, I can communicate directly with Salisbury Council who are very supportive, I chat to Becky too, with updates and progress from time to time, especially about the various species of wildlife that now visit and spare plants she may have for me. I have also been able to help Becky's project 'The Secret Garden Salisbury' by providing bags of woodchip for her to use.
'Volunteering' in this way in this community green space is a lovely peaceful way to relax, pottering in the sunshine and listening to bird song and chatting to local residents. I am passionate about wildlife, so I've planted a variety of flowers to hopefully attract lots of different bees, butterflies etc., which Becky has also been able to help with in terms of plants from her community garden, or advice on bee species that could be attracted in. It's really exciting to see new species of wildlife in the garden. Highlights for March and April include Hairy Footed Flower Bees, Bee Hawk-Moth and Brimstone Butterfly. I highly recommend people taking on small green spaces near to them, in this way!
Katie - A Salisbury green space guardian.
Marlborough transition town and space for nature 'Bee Roads' project -
I was so inspired by what you had done in Salisbury both with the Secret Garden and the Bee Trail that I started to see the possibility of joining up the whole county - north to south - by linking projects together and filling the gaps in between. Your knowledge about, and love of bees, helped me fall in love with them too and encourages me to tell stories about bees that can be just as inspiring to encourage people to get involved. I have learned so much from your public engagement methods and have broadened my knowledge and confidence hugely through involvement with the Bees Knees UK community online. They are so helpful, supportive and welcoming. I feel part of a bigger movement since I have connected with the things you have created and that gives me hope and determination that our project can make a lasting difference in our local landscape and can inspire others to do likewise. Thank you!! - Milly Carmichael (Transition Town Marlborough)
'Friends of Harnham Slope' project -
I was able to advise and guide this project as far as wild bees are concerned, looking at the site, assessing the flora and potential habitat and nest sites on it and eventually I was able to create an information board for visitors to understand more about how wild bees are helped by the management of the site, by the friends of Harnham Slope team of volunteers.
''Thanks Becky for your visit to Harnham Slope today, all very positive regarding the Bee Trail and I was amazed at your knowledge of bee species. Your enthusiasm was infectious and I will never look at bees in the same way again!'' Paul Dorey - Friends of Harnham Slope
Project : Pollinator study -
Study name and purpose: To what extent do churchyard management regimes affect pollinator abundance and diversity? (Dissertation).
In order to complete my dissertation I needed to find churchyards managed using a variety of management regimes at which to carry out my fieldwork. One of the sites I came across was the Secret Garden which I thought would be an interesting choice as it showed the role ex-churchyards could play in pollinator conservation.
I first heard about the Secret Garden after searching the internet for churchyards involved in wildlife conservation and after getting in touch and arranging a plan with Becky, I carried out my fieldwork at the Secret Garden in summer 2017.
My fieldwork involved me dividing the Secret Garden into a number of sections and, for each of these sections, recording the plant species abundance and diversity and the pollinator species abundance and diversity. This process was repeated over several weeks. I then compared the results from the Secret Garden to the results from the other churchyards. I found that the Secret Garden supported the second highest pollinator abundance and diversity. In addition, I found that the Secret Garden supported the highest abundance of solitary bees, honey bees and wasps.
Both Becky and the volunteers were incredibly helpful throughout my time at the Secret Garden. They allowed me to complete my fieldwork at the site and gave me a guided tour, highlighting aspects of the site they thought would be of interest to my project. They also helped me with plant species and pollinator species identification during my fieldwork.
I would definitely recommend Becky’s help to another project like this and I have used some of her other networks including the Salisbury Bee Trail and the Bees Knees UK Facebook group.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to carry out my dissertation fieldwork at the Secret Garden. It is such a peaceful space and both Becky and the volunteers are inspirational in their passion for pollinator conservation.
Hannah - Final year biological studies student
Festivals, private events, kids and adults workshops and fireside educational days.
Formal, or not! I create bespoke activities to suit you. (This one - a 'garden design for bees' workshop at Port Eliot festival)
Swift project -
In 2015 I set up the first Swift walk and talk with one of my volunteer board members, Daniel Kronenberg, who has an interest in them. The talk was a real hit with the local community and in 2018 Daniel felt inspired to use the success of the talks to create the foundation for a more dedicated Swift project.
I was able to fast track the formation of his project, by -
Setting up and promoting the first two years of talks and events
Providing access to large networks and links in the community
Lending helping hands and support with my team of community garden volunteers
Enabling an online presence with large established audiences (both from the Secret Garden Salisbury and 'the bees knees UK' community group)
Provide a trusted reference to use in correspondence with potential stakeholders
Daniel has also been able to use existing 'Swift projects' around the country, for specific guidance, literature and data and has now successfully set up 'SAWS' (Salisbury and Wilton Swifts) to add the growing national network of such projects.
Daniel is now making headway to organise, promote, fund raise and gain volunteers of his own, to become fully 'fledged' and independent.
*Picture of Salisbury Cathedral, where the talks all started. Photograph by Malcolm Anderson
Wilton Town Council -
Advice and steering about potential creation and development of a wildflower area and bee zones.
''I had a lovely couple of hours walking with Becky around some of Wilton’s open spaces. The Assistant Clerk and I learned a lot about what projects we could undertake in order to make some of Wilton Town Council’s open spaces more attractive to wildlife. Becky is obviously very knowledgeable and her calm and friendly manner makes it a pleasure to learn! She gave us advice on wildflower turf and that turf is now doing very well. She even found some rare solitary bees and some black oil beetles. Now that we realise we have several opportunities to improve habitats for wildlife in Wilton, we will be considering further projects and likely engaging Becky’s professional service.'' 2017-2019 Updates coming soon..
Cllr. Charlotte Blackman
Friends of Victoria Park -
The Friends of Victoria Park (Salisbury) formed in March 2017 and have a weekly volunteer session. As well as supporting Salisbury City Council in weeding, tidying and raising issues we have also planted wildflowers, 6000 crocus bulbs and bee and wildlife friendly shrubs and plants. We have also involved the wider community and collaborated with others including The Rotary Club and a local Care home.
''Becky was instrumental in giving me the courage to go ahead and volunteer to lead a new group of The Friends of Victoria Park. Having her support and The Secret Garden as a source of ideas and inspiration has been invaluable'' - Janet Mitchell - Project leader
Salisbury Library, August 2019 -
I created a set of portable 'gardens' for the library, with local children getting involved with planting and art work, these will be tucked away safely and brighten up the new library venue later, when that is decided by the local council. You can see photos of the workshops on the Facebook page 'The Secret Garden Salisbury'.
Photo - Spencer Mulholland
Alabare Salisbury -
'The better bee box project'
A collaborative project where I bring my bee knowledge to the woodworking team at Alabare to fine tune the bee boxes they make, so you have the best chance of helping bees when you buy one!
New improved bee boxes will be available to buy direct from Alabare or The Secret Garden Salisbury from summer 2019, and will include a better bee box fact sheet with each purchase made.