Westcroft is rich in wildlife, a haven for many species.
The birds are fed in the colder months and in spring there are many nests in the garden, the bird song a joy to hear.
Due to the vast numbers of snowdrops, pulmonarias and hellebores in the garden (the lungworts are one of the best food crops for bees in spring) it comes alive with bumble bees and solitary bees early in the year.
It continues to be insect rich right through the summer with plenty of butterflies, moths, etc. including the humming bird hawkmoth often seen feeding on the centranthus flowers.
When the film crew came here a few years back they were amazed by the number of bees and butterflies and chose to film here (despite the noisy road) for a program called Wild Gardens. (See below)
The orchid bank comes alive in February and March with oil beetles. Not so well known, this beetle is up to 2” long and nearly ½” wide depending on the sex. The females are the larger, the males much slimmer and move faster. They are seen in quite large numbers on my orchid bank, emerging on sunny days in late February.
By the end of April they’ve disappeared again, hibernating no doubt, but I’m sure my hedgehog has a few when he wakes up from his snooze.
I also have lots of frogs, toads, slowworms and lizards. I’m not so enthusiastic about rats, squirrels, mice, slugs, snails and vine weevils but no doubt they’re there as well. Recently bees and chickens have been added to the garden and field.
In 2008, Westcroft was chosen to appear in a television series called Wild Gardens, presented by Mike Dilger. The filming at Westcroft covered ways we can help insects overwinter – I was given an insect box to put on my garage wall. Not sure if the insects have read the instructions!
Also I was encouraged to leave some grass on a bank long, just cutting it once a year. During the first summer it was left uncut four pyramidal orchids appeared, these have now increased in number.
Working with nature, growing nectar rich plants, also growing plants suited to our chalky, often very dry soils was basically what this program on Chalk Downland was about. It was shown in the West Country (and in Spain!)