Moses Gate CP: Wildfest Garden

Annual Tidy Up 29th May 2022

The Wildfest/Educational/Wildlife Garden is located opposite the bird hide at Moses Gate Country Park. The garden contains a pond, fruit trees, planters and long and winding path all of which had been left to go wild for several years until Bolton Council gave us the site to manage for our own use. Since then we have add a strawberry bed, sensory garden, willow hurdles, wild flower meadow, and laid the hedge. The garden became one of our flagship sites and the location for our Wildfest events, the last of which was in August 2019. It is also used several times a week by Rick in his educational sessions with local schools.

The problem with wildlife gardens is that they tend to go wild and overgrown, which usually isn’t a bad thing but when a site is being used for a educational purposes some management is required to bring things back under control. So, every year we have a tidy up and restore order to nature’s chaos, essentially this is gardening and involves the same procedures as gardening: digging up weeds, planting new flowers, cutting back trees and hedges, and clearing paths, all with the help of BCV volunteers, Rock Hall volunteers and local families.

The weeds and unwanted vegetation were composted, the willow stems were put to one side for use in Rick’s willow weaving sessions with schools, and the more random bits of branch were used to make a linear habitat pile near one of the hedges.

Bird-cherry Ermine larvae
Bird-cherry Ermine larvae sack made from their silk.

Being a wildlife garden we did come across plenty of wildlife including, newts, toads,and damselfies. Our habitat pile will provide habitat for birds and small mammals, the flowers in the planters and meadow will benefit pollinators, and the de-shaded pond will support more amphibians and invertebrates. One interesting and unusual things we came across were trees covered in silk. One of the trees had a large sack of grubs hanging between two of its branches, the culprits were bird-cherry ermine moth larvae. These larvae produce the silk which they use for protection and cluster in large nests prior to pupation. The moth itself is white with 5 lines of black dots on the underwing with the appearance of being covered in fur. The infestation doesn’t damage the tree but can reduce its growth rate.

Thanks to everyone for today’s great work.