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Nature-friendly gardening at National Trust Cymru’s Dyffryn Gardens

22 September, 2021

The environment needs us now more than ever and restoring nature must be at the core of our nation’s efforts to tackle climate change, grow resilience and support people’s health and wellbeing.

At National Trust Cymru, we’re making landscape-scale improvements for nature and we’re committed to playing our part to restore and protect our natural environment. It’s our ambition to become carbon net zero by 2030 and we’re working hard to restore 4,600 hectares of priority habitat across Wales by 2025 to help reverse the decline in wildlife. 

At Dyffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan, we’re restoring wildflower meadows across the gardens and wider estate to offer a helping hand to nature and increase the diversity of the flora and fauna. Our meadows provide a feast for pollinators and increased forage areas for mammals and birds. 

In recent weeks, we’ve been busy collecting yellow rattle seeds in the meadows. This hemiparasitic plant releases the stronghold of grasses meaning that other plants and wildflowers can grow through. Each year we collect the seeds from the dried pods and sow them back into the meadows.

In the arboretum and parkland, our veteran trees are carefully managed for nesting birds, and deadwood and cavities play host to bats, bees, beetles and fungi. Elsewhere on the estate, we’ve planted over one kilometre of new hedgerow to create a wildlife corridor and provide a vital food source, and work is now underway to turn a previously unused field at the edge of the estate into a heritage orchard. As well as championing Welsh apple and pear trees, the orchard will provide an important habitat for a multitude of birds, pollinators and insects.

Within our ornamental garden, we’re continuing to adapt our management practices to produce a rich aesthetically pleasing historic garden that is good for nature too. This has included renovating and changing the management of our water features to provide more flowering interest for our visitors, but better aquatic habitats for the array of amphibians and invertebrates that call them home. We’ve also introduced lots of spring flowering bulbs and late flowering perennials throughout the garden to provide nectar sources for early and late pollinators.

One of the more recent practices that we’ve adopted is ‘mini meadows’ on the Great Lawns, within this formal area we mark out decorative shapes within the grass and allow it to grow uncut from May to September. The variation in grass heights supports a wide variety of insects and the birds that feed on them, as well as reducing compaction in the lawns which is beneficial for the waxcap fungi that are found in this area. 

The right gardening decisions can make a big difference to our native flora and fauna – what we choose to plant, what we allow to go wild, what we build and what we leave to decay. 

And our garden’s now even greener thanks to the installation of a state-of-the-art biomass boiler, ground source heat pumps and solar panels to help further reduce our carbon footprint.

As Europe’s biggest conservation charity, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to fight climate change, which poses the biggest threat to the places, nature and collections we care for.

We’re proud to be taking a bigger, better and more joined-up approach to nature conservation and putting the environment at the heart of what we do.

Find out more about the Trust’s work at Dyffryn Gardens: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens 

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