Biodiversity – Feature Fridays

Garden

Flower Meadow on Lake Walk

The theme for this week’s #FeatureFridays with Historic Houses is Biodiversity.

Nature and wildlife on Hever Castle’s 150 acre Estate is abundant. Biodiversity and ecology have always been intrinsic to company values and Hever Castle is committed to increasing the amazing variety and range of life here. The glorious grounds are currently open to local visitors.

You can learn more about the array of wildlife and the new habitations and healthy ecosystems that have been established at Hever Castle here.

LOCAL WILDLIFE SITES AWARD

Over the past 10 years, new habitations and healthy eco systems have been established with the help of organisations such as the Kent Wildlife Trust. Hever Castle has been awarded a Silver Award from the Kent Wildlife Trust for implementing management advice suggested by the Trust.

Hever Castle was particularly commended on the work undertaken to maintain low input grassland and create and manage meadows using traditional techniques. It was also noted how ponds and ditches were managed sensitively with buffers established around these features.

MEADOW FLOWER SITES BRING BIODIVERSITY

A new venture started in 2018 to bring a polychromatic landscape of meadow flowers to the grounds of Hever Castle and this is going from strength to strength.

Meadow flowers

The meadows, which differ from wildflower meadows, were first planted in 2018, and cover an area of 4,500 square metres on Lake Walk (in the Castle grounds), at the Main Entrance to the Castle & Gardens and on the Golf Course.

They take their inspiration from wildflower meadows in the first instance, but they are ‘planned’ in the sense that seed is sown and mixes are chosen to provide colour for longer.

The Olympic Park in London wowed in 2012 with Nigel Dunnett’s meadows and the trend for using similar seed mixes has spread like seed on the wind.

The project at Hever Castle has been led by Head Greenkeeper Rob Peers and has been supported by the team at large.

The different meadow sites, dotted along the banks of the lake, are improving biodiversity and functionality in areas which had previously been dominated by aggressive species such as bramble and nettle. The bees and butterflies love the flowers and it’s wonderful to see so many buzzing around the grounds.

The meadows change and move through the colour palette as the sun moves through its height in June to the misty days of October.

Hever Castle is also helping visitors to create their own flower meadows at home using the meadow flower seeds and kits available from the Online Shop and Hever Shop with an instruction video from Head Greenkeeper Rob Peers.

WORKING WITH THE NATIONAL HISTORY MUSEUM TO RECORD BIODIVERSITY

Hever Castle also recently worked together with the Natural History Museum on an insect count that featured in a new Channel 5 programme Natural History Museum: World of Wonder on Channel 5. Hever Castle featured in episode 3 of the four part Channel 5 series which is available to view on My5.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Insect experts from the Museum were filmed when they came to Hever Castle in August to find and catalogue insects as part of the Darwin Tree of Life project.

The Darwin Tree of Life project sees the Museum, along with 9 other sciences centres collect, store and study the DNA of all UK animals, plants and fungi to better understand and protect the biodiversity we have left in the UK.

The team from the Natural History Museum visited Hever Castle due to the wide variety of nature and wildlife on the estate.

Dr Gavin Broad the principal curator in charge (insects) said: “Hever has a lovely mix of habitats, with so much land sympathetically managed for wildlife, in addition to the beautiful gardens. With a mix of freshwater, woodlands and grasslands, we can sample a variety of organisms, contributing valuable data and specimens that will have their whole genomes sequenced.”

If you enjoyed this item on biodiversity then why not discover the previous #Feature Fridays news items.

 

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