ROH Wildlife Gardening Course – Part 2

Session 2 of the River of Herbs wildlife gardening course was held today at our Orchards in Park Frankendael.

Hornbeam and parterre garden frankendael orchards

Wildlife needs

As with the first session, the emphasis was on seeking ways to help wildlife which may find their way into your garden, whether that is a window box, tiny balcony, cluster of pavement plant pots or a larger space. Wildlife needs shelter, food and water to do well. Each creature has a specific set of needs and preferences and it is impossible to satisfy them all in a simple garden. What we can do is improve our outdoor spaces to help more wildlife to do well, if they find their way into them.

Orchard / Woodland / Park Location

Photo credit - Ioana cristina musat

Photo credit – Ioana cristina musat

River of Herbs Orchards are surrounded by dense Hornbeam hedges and they surround a well maintained parterre garden behind a 17th century country house, which sits in one corner of a city park. Beyond the formal garden is a sizeable woodland which is lightly managed. he whole area is wrapped around by a more traditional park complete with massive low cut lawns and waterways. RoH orchards themselves are full of fruit trees, ranging from 5 – 70+ years old with a thick ground layer of wild plants. These are interspersed with edible and medicinal herbs which have been added by the project volunteers over the past two years. Each of the four orchards has a different character, caused mainly by differences in available light. two have huge overhanging Sycamore trees, one is half shaded by an old yew tree and the fourth is home to an old Japanese cherry which lost a massive limb two years ago, creating more light. the ground cover in each has common elements and many differences. For instance, Stinging nettle is the dominant plant in one orchard, woodland geranium being dominant in another and yet cleavers, ground ivy and yellow deadnettle grow in both. A path has been created in each orchard, to keep foot traffic on the majority of the soil to a minimum. Below, the photo (from several years ago) shows the orchards shadowed by woodland on all sides.

Photo credit - Peter Elenbaas

Photo credit – Peter Elenbaas

Surveying the orchards

Simple plant surveys were conducted when we adopted these patches of land 2014 but no animal surveys to date. Surveys of gardens are clearly not essential but they important if you need to show how things have changed, probably as a result of your actions. We have good photo records of the changes but no written data so today we did a little surveying. We began the session with a mindful walk around the orchards followed by a wildlife survey. Animals noted were feeding, travelling, singing, buzzing, collecting and watching. Some of the creatures sighted were;

  • Great tits
  • Butterflies
  • Shield bugs
  • Blackbirds
  • Song thrush
  • Robins
  • Bumblebees
  • Honeybees
  • Snails
  • Woodlice
  • Woodpecker
  • molehills

Snail on stem

If you like the idea of surveying, several wildlife organisations actively encourage surveys at certain points of the year. Here are a few examples…

Bumblebee conservation trust (UK)

Naturalis (NL) Bijenradar


De vlinder stichting (NL) Butterflies and Dragonflies


  • If you know of more that I could add to this list, please let me know. riverofherbs(at)


Food, Shelter and Water

We then considered the current orchard availability of water, shelter and food for various creatures. Some food plants came to mind and were added to a wish list. Woodland canopies have a massive surface area and although too high for us to inspect, it is clear that they are host to enormous wildlife populations. Locations for birds to dig out insects from old wood are present in some orchards but not in all of them. So this could be improved by creating more log-piles. Water is glaringly absence within the orchards although the land is actually a sort of island, surrounded by a canal. Shelter is present in some ways but more can be offered. So we set about improving these aspects during the session. We created…

Bumblebee drinking station

Bumblebee drinking station

  • Bumblebee drinking stations
  • Plant cover for some existing pruned branch piles
  • Beginnings of a wetland area
  • Bug holes in logs with a drill
  • Buried bumblebee nest teapot
  • Plant list to help provide year-round nectar

Some wildlife friendly plants for the woodland floor (I have excluded plants toxic to humans) – 

  • Bugbane
  • Bugle
  • Burdocks


  • Woodland geranium / cranesbills
  • Dead-nettles
  • Ferns (only some are edible and at certains times of life cycle).
  • Lungworts
  • Primrose
  • Stinging nettle
  • violets
  • Wild strawberry
  • Wood forget-me-not (flowers edible)
  • Woodland grasses
  • Wood sage (Teucrium scorodonia)


We also looked briefly at –

  • Growing trees from seed
  • Green roofs
  • Plant pot gardens




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Monarchs and Local Wildlife Evening

Frogs at Castricum visitor centre

(Please scroll down for English)

Op donderdag 26 mei komt Tom Neppl, Iowa State University, naar Amsterdam om zijn ervaringen met duurzaamheid, community design en buurtinitiatieven te delen. Bewoners leren hoe ze van groene plekken in de stad samen ‘stepping stones’ maken voor het vergroten van de biodiversiteit.
Na flitspresentaties (pecha kucha’s) van Amsterdamse initiatieven, verkennen we in een gezamenlijke sessie de tips en trucs voor co-creatie tussen wetenschap, maatschappelijke organisaties en buurtinitiatieven. Je gaat naar huis met praktische voorbeelden en handvatten die passen bij jouw eigen organisatie.

Welkom door Lynn Shore (River of Herbs) en Nienke Kwikkel (ANMEC)
Introductie van Tom Neppl
Pecha Kucha 1 – Maurice Maarssen
Pecha Kucha 2 – Els de Vos
Dialoog, tips en trucs, co-creatie

Deelname is gratis, maar beperkt. Aanmelden is verplicht. Meld u aan voor vrijdag 20 mei 2016.

De voertaal is gemengd Engels en Nederlands (vertaling op aanvraag).
Doel Leren van elkaar door het uitwisselen van ervaringen over biodiversiteit in de stedelijke omgeving.
Doelgroep Mensen betrokken bij behoud van de natuur in de leefomgeving.

Locatie Learning Lab in FabCity
Beschikbaarheid 26 mei 2016
Prijs gratis
Duur 19:00 – 21:00 uur

Bus 48, halte Tosaristraat.


On Thursday 26th May, River of Herbs and ANMEC are hosting a gathering about how local initiatives can help wildlife. Tom Neppl is a senior lecturer at Iowa State University. He runs their Monarch butterfly waystation project. It works with researchers, local communities (and of course butterflies!) all along the migration route which these incredible creatures journey each year. We will hear how that project works and also from three local wildlife focussed projects. It will be an evening of sharing information to help us all create better opportunities for wildlife in our gardens – however big or small!

Welcome from Lynn Shore (River of Herbs) and Nienke Kwikkel (ANMEC)
Momarch presentation by Tom Neppl
Pecha Kucha 1 – Maurice Maarssen
Pecha Kucha 2 – Els de Vos
(Pecha Kucha’s are short and snappy colourful presentations to give the outline of three local projects).
Questions, tips en tricks, co-creation.

Location: Learning Lab in FabCity (Java Eiland)
Date: Thursday 26th May 2016
Free Entrance
Time: 19:00 – 21:00

We’ll be there from about 6pm.

Public transport: Bus 48, halte Tosaristraat.

Posted in Bees, Bijen, Bugs, Butterflies, wildlife gardening

ROH Wildlife Gardening Course – Part 1


This Monday saw the first RoH Wildlife Workshop, run by Lynn at her volkstuin in Schellingwoude. Here is a summary of what was covered with a few useful links:

The concept of gardening for wildlife:

  • Think of creating an inviting and enticing living space for wildlife.
  • Create opportunities for wildlife to find SHELTER, FOOD and WATER in your patch.
  • Keep it simple, cheap, organic and as natural as possible.
  • Aim to increase biodiversity.
  • Leave key shelter areas undisturbed, especially during hibernation and brooding seasons. Dig less!
  • Think native bees rather than honey bees. They overwinter in the ground, stonework, hollowed out branches etc.
  • Think food webs. Encourage or grow a food source (e.g. nectar rich flowers) and the consumers will follow (e.g. flowers -> pollinators -> birds).
  • Keep resources in your patch: Annual weeds can go under the soil, hot compost the tougher perennials weeds, save branches..


Survey your patch and plan:

  • Get a baseline of what grows there and who visits your garden.
  • Look for areas which are damp, dry, messy, quiet, sheltered, cat safe.
  • Plan locations for bird boxes, bird feeders, log piles, nectar rich flowers, compost heaps, hedges, hedgehog shelters, pond etc.
  • If you like things super-tidy in your garden then there are still options to help wildlife.
Frogs at Castricum visitor centre

Frogs at Castricum visitor centre


  • Kitchen sink size or bigger works well.
  • Gently sloping sides for easy exit by amphibians and small mammals.
  • Plants to oxygenate water, give shelter, reduce algae and provide nectar.
  • Let the wildlife come rather than adding fish for birds to take away.
  • Wetland plants.
  • Bee drinking stations.
Bumblebee drinking station

Bumblebee drinking station

  • Floating water plant bowls.
  • Saucer of water.



  • Consider edible hedgerow plants.
  • Make from cuttings to save money.
  • Consider “native” plants.
  • Elder babies (cuttings).
  • Multipurpose plants.
  • Leave some piles of pruned branches in quiet piles as wildlife shelters.
  • Birds nest in hedges. Time your hedge pruning/trimming outside of the nesting season and check first.
  • Better for wildlife than fences. Make 12cm diameter semicircle holes at base of any fences for hedgehog access between gardens. Get your neighbours to do it too! Hedgehogs need several urban gardens to support them.


Free plants:

  • Community: Get friendly with organic gardeners. Join a community garden. Share knowledge, plants and connection.
  • Take cuttings.
  • Split perennials.
  • Grow from seed.


Wildlife food:

  • Possible to feed birds and hedgehogs through year. It can encourage them into your plot but really they should be eating the pests in your garden.
  • Nectar rich flowers year round. Look at what’s in flower locally or in the garden centers and gradually build up your year-round flower plants to please as much wildlife as possible.
  • Different colours attract different pollinators.
  • Winter is the lean time.
  • Leave many seed spikes standing dead on perennial plants. It helps you to see where the plants will reappear in spring and also provides food for wildlife such as birds.

Some useful links:

How to make cuttings from Elder (Vlier).

Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Wildlife Gardening Project

The second workshop in this series will be at the ROH orchards in Park Frankendael. We will be looking at creating Food, Shelter and Water opportunities for wildlife in a completely different setting. The third workshop will be back at Lynn’s volkstuin in September, to look at Food, Shelter and Water in preparation for autumn and winter.


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Posted in Bees, Bijen, Bugs, Butterflies, wildlife gardening, Workshops