Beaumont Park is a long term project for us, and something we love being responsible for. We’re committed to this work for a very long time, so rather than doing everything at once, we’re going to do it all bit by bit. We’ve already done a lot though!
We’re very lucky that our offices sit in one of Plymouth’s most beautiful parks – Beaumont Park. It’s a park that, despite sitting in the city centre, is relatively unknown. The park originally belonged to Beaumont House when it was built in the late 1700s, but the Council is now responsible for its upkeep. It’s often known as “Squirrel Park” by locals – there are so many squirrels living here. But that’s just the start. The amount of variety of wildlife living in the park is astounding. Here at Nash & Co Solicitors, we wanted to get involved and help nature and wildlife to thrive. We also wanted to use some of the work that we’re doing to help inspire people to do the same in their own garden.
Veterans Outdoors works with veterans and those still serving, harnessing the proven therapeutic benefits of outdoor activity to improve wellbeing. They are very active partners in the rewilding work that we’re doing in Beaumont Park. Working with Keith and Darren from the Council, they have helped to transform areas of the park, and are continuing to do so!
Plymouth City Council
Keith and Darren are the Plymouth City Council gardeners responsible for Beaumont Park. What they don’t know about plants and insects and animals that we have in the park, isn’t worth knowing! They’ve done an enormous amount of work in the park over the years. It’s important to acknowledge that the work that the rewilding work that we’re doing is more about enhancing this work rather than trying to take over. Huge thanks also to Kieran in the Natural Infrastructure team in the council for the time and support.
Walk under the rose arches, and as you look at the back of Beaumont House, you’ll see our home for busy bugs and wildlife – Bugmont House. At first, you may be surprised that we’re making such a big deal of looking after and encouraging more bugs in the park. Bug houses benefit lots of different types of minibeast and insects such as ladybirds, bees, spiders, centipedes, beetles and woodlice. You can also find frogs taking shelter in a bug house. Minibeasts can then use the bug hotel as a safe space to shelter, lay their eggs, raise their young, and seek refuge from predators.
These minibeasts will help to eat aphids and other garden pests, and they’ll help to pollinate flowers too. So, we need to protect them and give them places to live!
At present, we just have one bug house in the park. But in 2022, we’ll be starting to build some more, along with some placing some wood piles too. These are simply piles of logs and do the same kind of job as the Bug Houses, but are also great places for hedgehogs to nest.
They’re really easy to make. Ideally, you need a couple of pallets or bricks (with air holes), sticks, leaves, straw pinecones and tree bark. If you have some moss as well, even better.
Here’s a great link to get some tips on how to build your bug house at home:
This is probably one of the most visible examples of the work that we’ve been developing together. It’s immediately outside the east wing of Beaumont House and just a few metres away from the bug house. Ponds like this provide essential drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals. If you plant a range of plant species around the edge, you’ll encourage an even greater diversity of wildlife to visit.
Over the past century, nearly 70 percent of ponds have been lost from the UK countryside. Because of this, ponds and water features play an increasingly important role for wildlife.
Why is a pond so important? They provide a natural home for frogs, toads and newts, caddisflies, damselflies, dragonflies, mayflies, pond skaters, snails and water beetles. Birds such as swallows and house martins will use some of the insects as food and can also use muddy areas for nest building.
In the spring of 2022, we’ll be planting a mini wildflower meadow in the park, next to the main entrance near the crossroads.
Wildflowers and wildflower-rich habitats support insects and other wildlife.
In the UK, we need a wide range of wildflowers to provide pollinators (bees and other insects that pollinate plants) with local food sources across the seasons – including times when crops aren’t producing flowers.
Many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts rely on insect pollination. For example, in the UK strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and apples need to be pollinated by insects to get a good crop.
Wildflowers provide lots of things that insects need: food in the form of leaves, nectar, and pollen, also shelter, and places to breed. In return, insects pollinate the wildflowers, enabling them to develop seeds and spread to grow in other places.
Bird boxes and bat boxes
As our environments have changed, birds and bats have suffered from a lack of suitable natural breeding sites, so the addition of a nesting box can be a welcome refuge for them.
Gardens that are well designed are easily capable of supporting families of blue tits, robins and blackbirds. However, it is more difficult to get birds to breed than to feed in your garden. This is partly because the chosen nesting site needs to be in a territory that will provide most of the food that both the adults and young need during this busy phase.
Birds are also quite specific in their nest requirements. If you are thinking of putting up a bird box, the position is crucial. Make sure your nest box is in a sheltered position, facing north-east to south-east, to avoid prevailing wet winds and the heat of the midday sun.
The nest box should also be about 2m off the ground and away from overhanging branches to stop cats from reaching the nest. Boxes can be hung from wires to discourage predators, but you must use four wires to ensure that the box will not spin.
You can help the birds
Come springtime garden birds start the frantic search for materials to build and insulate the perfect nest. You can give them a hand by putting out suitable nesting materials. Try hanging bundles of straw, fine sticks, shredded woollen jumpers and bunches of grasses close to your feeding station. Your bundles should last through to the summer season of second broods.
And don’t forget during winter to put out lots of sources of food for birds. Their more natural sources of food will dry up in the winter so we need to do all we can to help them
As well as being one of the most threatened types of mammals in Britain, bats are also among the most misunderstood. Far from being nasty dangerous animals, they are attractive small, furry insect eaters that need all the help they can get. Bats need a range of roosting sites, including summer daytime roosts, winter hibernation ones, and breeding sites. You can help them find a suitable roost by putting up a simple bat box.
The best place to position a bat box is on a tree. Place them in groups around three sides of a tree – bats like to move from one box to another during the day and from season to season as temperatures change. It is a good idea to make sure the area near the box is relatively free of branches to give the bat a clear line of flight.
Try and put the boxes as high as possible above the ground to avoid predators.
If you don’t have trees in your garden, bat boxes can also be placed on buildings. A good position is under the eaves of a house as boxes are then sheltered from bad weather.
The importance of trees just can’t be understated. It’s been much talked about over recent years because trees really do so many good things for the environment, and for wildlife too.
Trees absorb carbon, taking it out of the atmosphere. They also help to purify the air, absorbing pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides, ozone, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide. Some trees in particular are really good at this. The Mayflower Forest at Marshmills Roundabout in Plymouth is made up of hundreds of silver birch trees. They have been found to be the best at capturing the tiny particles from diesel pollution, so having them next to a road really helps the atmosphere. We were really pleased to part sponsor the Mayflower Forest which was a project of Building Plymouth. You can find out more about it here.
One of the obvious benefits of trees is that they help to sustain wildlife. They create habitats for all kinds of wildlife – from squirrels and bats to bees, owls, and woodpeckers. Trees add to local biodiversity, becoming both a food source and a natural habitat for wildlife. Adding a single tree to a pasture, for example, could raise the number of bird species from near zero to 80. And in greater numbers, they attract even more endangered and at-risk species.
Trees are really good for us. They have been proven to do everything from helping lower stress to raising property values!
Studies have shown that patients with views of trees heal faster and with fewer complications. Children with ADHD show reduced symptoms with access to nature. And exposure to trees and nature has also been proven to reduce mental fatigue and help concentration. So maybe skip that third coffee and go in search of your nearest oak!
When we’re exposed to certain chemicals released by trees (known as phytoncides), research reveals everything from reduced blood pressure and anxiety to increased pain threshold and even an increase of anti-cancer proteins. It looks like the tree-huggers were right all along!
And of course, a lot of trees grow food that we can eat. That’s one of the reasons we donated 4 fruit trees to Holy Cross Primary School directly opposite our office. We gave them a couple of plum trees, an apple tree, and a plum tree. They’ve planted them in the park and will continue to look after them long into the future.
As well as the work in the park, we’re developing our own grounds here around our office. We’re going to be undertaking a tree-planting program, using birch trees, rowan trees, chestnut trees, and others.
Don’t be afraid to let the grass grow a bit!
In the new year, we’ll be fencing off a small section of the park next to our building, and we’ll be letting this go a little wild. We’ll be letting the grass grow, we’ll be building some dedicated hedgehog houses and bug houses and planting a few pollinator-friendly plants and flowers. Each of these will really help wildlife to thrive in the park.
One of the species that we really want to help is the hedgehogs. Their numbers are declining more and more each year, and there are a lot of reasons for this happening – the use of pesticides in farming, slug pellets, contemporary garden design, and traffic.
But they’re incredible little things – they’re natural pest controllers, beneficial to farmers and gardeners alike.
A lot of people think they should leave out a saucer of milk for a hedgehog. Please don’t! Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so this can really harm them. Instead, leave some dried mealworms, or meat-based cat or dog food.
Supplementary food such as this is most useful in summer and autumn in particular. This is when they’ll start fattening up to get them through hibernation.
You should never see hedgehogs out during the day. If you do, it’s probably sick and you should try and get it to someone experienced in hedgehog rescue – there are lots of people listed on the internet that can help.
The other thing that you can do to help a hedgehog is making sure that they can come and go easily from your garden. Simply create a small hole in a fence or wall to allow hedgehogs to roam freely. They can walk up to 2km a night looking for food or a mate, so need access to large areas of connected habitat.
You can find out more suggestions for building a hedgehog house and looking after them here:
When it comes to making your own gardens more attractive and helpful for wildlife, there are tons of resources on the internet that you can watch or read.
We’ve picked just a few to help you and listed them below:
Looking after hedgehogs
Hedgehog Street – find out more here
Making your garden more wildlife friendly
Woodland Trust – find out more here
Royal Horticultural Society – find out more here
National Trust – find out more here
Country Life – find out more here
How to create an eco-friendly garden
Ovo Energy – find out more here
How to make a bee-friendly garden
Gardeners World – find out more here
BBC – find out more here
Pollenize CIC – find out more here