The garden is a suburban garden situated in south Bedfordshire U.K. It is 19m (60ft) long by 12m (38ft) wide and is 137m (450ft) above sea level. It faces north east and is surrounded on two sides by houses and by a sports playing field on the third. The nearest 'wild' features are the Chiltern Hills approximately 1Km ( 0.6 mile) to the south east and a small wood approximately 1Km (0.6mile) to the north. Between these two natural habits, are an industrial estate, several main roads, and of course many houses and gardens. The soil in the area is very chalky, typical of the Chilterns area.
I cleared and replanted the over grown garden in 1997, retaining only some boundary plants - a golden yew, some chamaecyparis lawsoniana conifers and a mixed hedge down one side comprising lilac, honeysuckle, guelder rose, cotoneaster, mock orange and buddleia davidii. The garden wasn't originally re-planted as a wildlife garden, it was planted to satisfy my long time interest for trees and shrubs. The garden now has some nicely maturing examples - Acer Griseum, Acer Palmatum, Acer 'Senkaki', Sorbus Vilmorinii, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Acer pseudoplatanus 'Brilliantissimum', Euonymus alatus, Prunus 'Amanogawa', Amelanchier lamarckii , holly (in variety), Hazel (green, purple and golden leaf types), Cornus Kousa, Cornus Chinensis, Gleditsia 'Sunburst', Cercis siliquastrum, Catalpa bignonioides Aurea. Most of these are small trees or shrubs suitable for small gardens, the larger ones are planted on the boundary, while others are regularly pollarded or coppiced to keep them within bounds.
Under planting is done mostly with perennial planting - geraniums (in variety) are a particular favourite, and also self seeding biennials and annuals are planted and encouraged. The result is that although much of the planting is non-native, over the years though they have formed a garden with a woodland feel, one which the birds and other wildlife visitors feel secure in. As the wildlife came, I began to encourage it by providing food, water and nesting boxes. I also planted more and more plants that provided food and nectar for insects, and allowed the garden to become more free to perpetuate itself by allowing a cycle of self seeding and natural decay. Although the garden is managed, this now amounts to just a few days work in late February to do pruning and tidying.
Most recently, I have allowed part of the lawn to grow and planted into it seed grown chalk loving natives plants. This is coming on well and again, needs little work, just needing to be cut back in mid September to allow the bulbs to show in the spring.