UK garden wildlife is in serious decline as their main habitat, private and community gardens, is being fragmented and built upon. Our wildlife defines our natural heritage and identity. It pollinates the plants we eat and breath from as well as regulates the creatures throughout the food chain. When this chain is disrupted through species decline imbalances are created and problems occur. We have a duty of care to our garden wildlife to provide the essential habitat needed to maintain this balance as well as to protect our wonderful national wildlife identity. This invaluable garden habitat is under serious pressure in urban areas and the community at Downings Roads Floating Barge Gardens are very proud of their wildlife friendly gardens.
The community floating gardens offer food, shelter and nesting opportunities for a variety of our native wildlife. There are aquatic birds, such as ducks and coots, nesting in and around the moorings every spring. Not long after there is the familiar high pitched ‘peep, peep, peep’ of their young offspring as they hatch.
The gardens fizz and buzz with the resident bees living in their hive on one of the Garden Barges and there are also beautiful butterflies and other nectar-seeking insects attracted to the wide range of flowering plants available throughout spring, summer and autumn. The gardens also host the occasional sleepy but hungry bumblebee in winter who feed on the nectar in the highly scented winter flowering plants in the gardens. Colourful ladybirds and other invertebrates are also present.
Native garden birds regularly spotted in the gardens include a family of Blackbirds, a troupe of Goldfinch, several Blue Tits and possibly even a chiffchaff. They snack on soil grubs, insects, seeds and berries as well perhaps as the odd tomato or fruit from a resident’s food growing on their decks. The birds also benefit from the denser shrub cover on the gardens for shelter and perch on the taller plants and structures such as the barge’s masts to where you hear them sing beautifully.