Tour of England’s countryside in a London backyard setting


W.What would it look like if you tried to turn the English countryside into 6,000 square meters of land? Well, the wildlife garden in the Natural History Museum is as close to the experience as possible. A short hike takes you on a wildlife journey that would otherwise take days.

Piles of sand on the sunlit edge are adorned with purple flowering heather, a mini heather experience in Dorset. This pales in the Cambridgeshire moors – reeds and marshes, including marsh thistles, though less than six feet tall, much less lush than the towering plants I reported from Woodwalton Fen last month. After ten steps I am in a forest in the Wye Valley with English oak, holly, hazel, mountain ash and other native trees. Under a rotting log next to a frog is a large, curled white maggot with a pale brown head, large and shiny and lanky legs. probably a smaller stag beetle, but the full stag beetle lives here too. Finally, I walk through a chalk meadow in Sussex with accompanying fences, hedges, ponds and dancing darter dragonflies.

The garden is slightly below street level, which increases the feeling of secrecy. Insights into traffic and great messages through screening bushes only emphasize the dissonance between urban life and the tranquility of nature.

When the garden opened in 1995, John Gummer, then Environment Secretary, considered it “a symbol of what can be done to help and protect our wildlife, even in a small and crowded area in central London… to raise public awareness of the conservation of wildlife ”.

This goal has been achieved. More than 2,800 species have now been registered in the garden, including many rare and rare animals and plants, some of which are no different to be found in London. The oasis is visited by 38,000 people each year, but stop by soon. Controversial plans to reformat the garden have received planning permission, and those who know and love the garden best believe the program will seriously affect the quality of the wildlife.

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