Local community project will use wildlife gardening to inspire national audience

Wild at Heart – a community project run by Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust – will soon be inspiring even more people to try wildlife gardening at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live Beautiful Borders competition.

The Wild at Heart Beautiful Borders entry, which has been accepted to this year’s competition, is all about inspiring people to try out simple wildlife gardening ideas in their own gardens or community spaces, connecting up communities and providing the resources wildlife needs to thrive. Wild at Heart participants will be involved in creating the border, having already started sowing some of the seeds, and will be growing some of the plants and making items for the garden as well as being at the show to talk to people about the border and their project.

Wild at Heart is an innovative project supported by the National Lottery Community Fund. It works specifically with adults aged 50 years and over to improve their wellbeing through seasonal nature-based activities. Over the last five years, more than 4,000 people in Sheffield and Rotherham, with an average age of 70, have taken part in Wild at Heart through more than 700 nature-based activity sessions. More than two thirds of these took part for over six months and over 1,700 reported being more active as a result.

Working with small local business Baldwin’s Gardening Solutions, the Wild at Heart group will create a wildlife gardening-inspired border similar to the Trust’s own community wildlife garden on Stafford Road, near Norfolk Heritage Park in Sheffield. The border will have distinct planting areas and take people on a wildlife gardening journey with opportunities for people to engage with the space and feel inspired to implement these ideas at home or in their community.

Richard, the proprietor of Baldwin’s Gardening Solutions, is on a journey of discovery himself, having struggled with stress for a number of years, especially since reaching the age of 50. He has always found gardening therapeutic, but in recent years saw gardening as an escape from the rigours and stress of his working day. His passion for gardening and the joy that outdoor spaces provide, coupled with his desire to seek positive ways to relieve stress, saw him complete a Diploma in Garden Design a couple of years ago. He’s now putting that to good use in designing and creating his own outdoor spaces through his own business.

Jenny King, Wild at Heart Project Leader, said:

“Over the last five years Wild at Heart has proven that connecting with nature and each other creates opportunities for people to spark joy, start conversations which strengthen communities, and can be really beneficial for local wildlife.

“The Trust’s own wildlife garden has been pivotal to the success of the project as we are able to use it for sessions throughout the year. We offer active gardening sessions where participants can share knowledge, plants and seeds and showcase simple ways that people can turn their garden into a haven for wildlife.

“Wildlife Gardens don’t have to be untidy; we want to show that you can provide food, shelter and water for wildlife at the same time as creating ‘beautiful borders’. As the Wildlife Gardening Forum says: ‘Wildlife gardening is good for wildlife, good for people and good for society.’”

If you’re over 50 and would like to get involved, Wild at Heart is holding Beautiful Borders workshops in April and May to prepare for the competition entry. For more information, email Jenny King, Wild at Heart Project Leader, at j.king@wildsheffield.com