Our Eco Church Garden consists of a small area at the front of the church and a courtyard garden at the back. We do not have much land but we wanted to make our small outdoor spaces flexible, somewhere the people who use our premises can sit quietly to reflect and a place to attract insects and other wildlife.
Our large planters are on casters so that we can move them around if necessary. In these we have planted mainly perennials and all organically grown – lavender, diascia, perennial wallflower, saxifrage, dianthus. There are some tulips and wallflowers in pots, and they be refilled with summer plants. Our growing medium is organic and peat free.
We have purchased a bench and some small tables/seats. This will allow for flexible seating.
We have put a window grid (removed from the stained-glass windows), on the wall at the back to grow fragrant flowers such as honeysuckle or jasmine against.
One of the former members of our congregation, who is an entomologist, recommended the 'bug hotel'.
The front garden
Oxford Plan Bee aims to create a network of bee hotels across the city of Oxford and in Wytham Woods(an area of ancient woodland just outside the city). These bee hotels will improve the value of the University and city infrastructure as habitat for cavity-nesting solitary bees. Cavity-nesting solitary bees do not live in big colonies, are excellent pollinators, and are harmless to humans, so they're ideal for a space that is shared with people, such as gardens, courtyards, or any public area that includes flowering plants.
The nest-boxes also offer a research opportunity. Not only is it possible to observe occupancy and species diversity year to year in the different habitats, it's possible to collect bees and nest material from the hotels to analyse forage plant species (through pollen analysis) and to study the population genetics of the bees.
We didn't expect our bird feeder to attract small birds as there are so many pigeons around in the city centre but we have observed dunnocks, house sparrows, robins, coal tits so far.