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A Day of Sprucing-Up The Office Garden

Christopher Walsh   Wed 19 Apr 2023

Our office sits just off the Albertbridge Road in East Belfast, and it has very little green space.

That’s perhaps a surprising admission for an environmental charity. But we are very fortunate to have a little verdant oasis in this concrete jungle, and we are pleased to share it with the teams at Business in the Community (BITC) and WRAP.

Our garden acts as a resting point for many birds on their daily journeys across the city - we even have a robin who likes to inspect our work - and it also provides habitat for many invertebrates.

Nevertheless, we knew that we could increase our efforts to improve the quality and quantity of these habitats. We also wanted to attract more pollinators into our green space. That’s why, just before Easter, working alongside our building buddies at BITC and WRAP, we got busy with the bee-eautification of our little patch of paradise.

Here are the steps that we took to move us further along our own journey of biodiversity recovery:

• We sourced flowering perennial plants, such as achillea, rudbeckia, ox-eye daisy, nemesia and heathers specifically to attract pollinators and provide shelter for invertebrate populations. During the planting, we found a few queen bumblebees and a ladybird, so these flowers will provide them with new habitat opportunities. We used peat-free compost during the planting to reduce our impact on peat bogs (which are important ‘carbon sinks’ in the fight against climate change);

• Noted that the main planter in the garden had fallen into disrepair and arranged for replacement wood. However, the original wood will remain in the garden as an insect metropolis to retain the habitat for the many woodlice that we found;

• Planted Clematis varieties alongside the iron fences to soften their industrial appearance and to provide food and shelter to invertebrates;

• Established a new veggie patch by layering recycled cardboard and covering it with peat-free compost. We hope that we can visit the garden for lunchtime in the near future and maybe even steal some snacks from the veggie bed – reducing our food miles and making sure to leave some for the earthworms; and

• Marked out large swathes of grass for transforming into natural long-flowering meadow. We are reducing the frequency of grass cutting to allow native wildflowers to come through, such as dandelions, clovers and daisies – all of which are essential for supporting a thriving population of pollinators! No Mo May is coming, so why not give this a go yourself in your own garden?

This is, of course, just a start. Our next steps are to install bird and bat boxes and bug hotels to provide further habitat opportunities and shelter from bad weather. With all this hard planting and maintenance, we will also need to put in a compost bin to make everything more sustainable.

Why not try some of these nature-nurturing actions yourself? Then you can join us in setting up your own monthly gardening club with fellow work colleagues or friends and family!