A golden opportunity

L-r, Keith Davies, Nancy Marshall, Emma Emerson (Partner at Woodside Plants), Joyce Stillie and John Marshall (Group Leader of the local RSPB). Parnter of Woodside Plants Centre Emma Emerson was joined by volunteers from the RSPB Borders Local Group in restoring the walled garden area of the centre.

L-r, Keith Davies, Nancy Marshall, Emma Emerson (Partner at Woodside Plants), Joyce Stillie and John Marshall (Group Leader of the local RSPB). Parnter of Woodside Plants Centre Emma Emerson was joined by volunteers from the RSPB Borders Local Group in restoring the walled garden area of the centre.

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A BORDERS wildlife garden, the first of its kind in Scotland, is set to be officially opened this Saturday at Ancrum.

Located at the Woodside Walled Garden, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds garden was funded by the Awards for All lottery scheme and was created by hard-working volunteers from the RSPB Borders Local Group, with the support of Woodside’s owners.

The main feature of the new wildlife garden – which was recreated at the Gardening Scotland event at Ingliston in Edinburgh earlier this month and where it scooped a gold medal – is a large pond that is already home to numerous newts, frogs and water beetles.

Flowers and shrubs to attract bees and butterflies have also been planted. Nestboxes have been put up around the garden, some with cameras to relay images of nesting birds to a large screen in the garden’s information centre. Visitors can also enjoy watching a variety of birds coming to the feeders.

The aim of the garden is not just to provide a home for wildlife, but to inspire visitors and to suggest ways in which they can improve their own gardens for birds and other wildlife.

The garden will also be a focal point for the Borders RSPB Local group and promote their conservation work and activities.

Woodside’s owners are Emma and Stephen Emmerson, who also operate the Newton Don nursery near Kelso. “We were absolutely thrilled to get a gold medal for the wildlife garden at Ingliston,” Emma told TheSouthern.

“It was really unexpected. We spent a total of 44 hours over three days creating it. At first we thought we might be in with a chance of a bronze, and then started to think a silver might be on the cards if we were really lucky. So to get a gold was just fantastic.

“We adopted the same wildlife-friendly measures that have been adopted at the Woodside garden for the one at Gardening Scotland.

“As far as we know, the wildlife garden at Woodside is the first of its kind – that is in association with the RSPB – in Scotland. Normally the RSPB just oversees big bird reserves, so this is a new development for them.

“Our idea is that people can see how to make their own gardens wildlife friendly. The garden itself is not that big, so even those with smaller gardens and areas of ground can do something to encourage wildlife.”

The RSPB wildlife garden will be officially opened at 1pm on Saturday by Anne McCall, RSPB regional director, south and west Scotland.

Wildlife artist Colin Woolf will be lending his support to the event with an exhibition of original watercolours and pencil sketches, limited edition prints, greetings cards and books. He will be demonstrating ‘live’ at his easel during the afternoon, allowing visitors to watch a painting in progress.

Members of the public are welcome to view the garden and pick up some ideas for their own gardens. The RSPB Wildlife Garden is situated in the Woodside Walled Garden near Ancrum, just off the A68 on the B6400. The centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm.