Creature Feature

If you pay a visit to the gardens at Chartwell at this or any other time of year, it is probably going to be our fantastic collection of plants that is going to be high on your list of priorities to see, smell and maybe even touch while you’re here. From trees and shrubs to bulbs and annuals to fruit and vegetables; you name it, we’ve got it. However, it is not just the flora that you might come away marveling about, but perhaps also some of our fauna too. There is plenty of wildlife in and around the gardens and estate if you take the time to find it. In this week’s blog I’ll be pointing out a few of our furry, winged and feathered friends that you might catch a glimpse of the next time you visit us…

Bees enjoying our Winter Border Asters

Bees are perhaps the most obvious of the garden insects that you might expect to find at Chartwell. We may have already harvested most of the honey from our hives but the busy little chaps are still out and about foraging for pollen and nectar from our many late blooms. Many gardeners in the UK have noticed that bees are less healthy and abundant in recent years than they perhaps have been in the past. If this trend continues, it could have serious implications, since most plants rely on bees and other insects to transfer pollen from one flower to another in order to set fruits and seeds. It is important therefore to do all you can to encourage bees into your garden at home. The RHS have recently introduced a ‘Plants For Pollinators’ symbol that many nurseries are placing on their relevant plants. You can find more information by clicking here. The next few pictures show some of the plants here at Chartwell that our bees are currently enjoying:

The Dahlias in our cut flower area within the Kitchen Garden walls are very popular…

…as are the many Sedums that can be found all over the garden.

The collapsed stamens of this Magnolia grandiflora along the Iris Walk actually appeared to make the bees drunk! They swarmed all over it, dropping repeatedly to the floor before zig-zagging their way back to the good stuff!

You might be interested to know that Brigit Strawbridge, a biodiversity campaigner, writes a brilliant blog about the current plight of the humble bee which you can read here.

There are plenty of other fascinating and gorgeous insects that are drawn to the gardens here at Chartwell. I’m not promising you’ll get to see all of them every time you visit us, but have a look at the pictures below and see if you can spot them the next time you’re here…

Butterflies are incredibly important to Chartwell due to Sir Winston Churchill’s love for them. He raised them as a boy and whilst stationed abroad during the First World War and then again at Chartwell when he became frustrated by the increasing use of agricultural chemicals in Britain. A video about the link between Churchill, Chartwell and butterflies can be viewed here.

Having reinstated the Butterfly House at Chartwell a few years ago, we still raise native varieties from pupa and release them once they hatch.

Red Admirals are easily spotted along our Butterfly Walk or amongst the cut flower beds…

…as are the beautiful Common Blues.

It’s not just the smaller, flying forms of fauna that you should be on the look out for here. Amphibians are also lurking if you know where to look…

Two toads enjoying each others’ company!
Fact of the Day – Frogs jump while toads tend to walk!

This smooth newt was basking in the sun in one of the pump houses we use to circulate the water between the lakes, ponds and swimming pool.

Feathered friends are another important feature of life here at Chartwell, especially as Sir Winston himself kept plenty of wildfowl during his time here. If you attend one of our 2pm duck feeding sessions at the lakes you’ll more than likely see most of the following suspects…

Black swans are a permanent feature at Chartwell ever since Sir Winston Churchill was presented with some by a visiting Australian dignitary. We’re hoping our current pair might start to breed soon.

Duck sat on a water lily pad? Perfect photo opportunity!

If you’re really lucky you might even get to witness our majestic resident heron in full flight!

You may well have noticed our chickens already. We have some up in the car park area and another brood down in the Kitchen Garden. I speak from experience when I say that their eggs are delicious!

Even though this is just a miniscule smattering of the vast numbers of birds, insects, butterflies, moths, amphibians and other creatures here at Chartwell, hopefully it will whet your appetite for more and encourage you to come and pay us a visit soon. There’s more to our gardens than just the plants after all…

Jock the cat. Perhaps the wildest of our wildlife!
We have kept a ginger tom at Chartwell ever since Sir Winston had his own beloved version. The current incarnation is a little shy but often out and about.


Jamie

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