The Blackdown Healthy Living and Activity Centre supports the wellbeing and health of the local community, particularly isolated and elderly individuals. It is an important local amenity. With help and funding from Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project and Blackdown Hills AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund, the Centre has created a wildlife garden – a peaceful and accessible setting for visitors to get outdoors and enjoy nature.

About the Community Project:

Planning the garden

The wildlife garden at Blackdown Healthy Living and Activity Centre began life in 2015. Workshops, led by experts from local organisations such as the Somerset Ornithological Society, gave staff and volunteers an idea of the kinds of wildlife they might be able to attract and tips on how to make the garden suitable for a diversity of species.

A variety of ideas were put forward by locals who use the centre regularly, such as the Cameo Club and Bookworms groups.

Plans and visions of how the space could be converted were then produced.

Getting the project underway

Once funding was received, tools and equipment were purchased ready for the work to begin. Plants were chosen, a tool shed was installed, and the Centre joined the RSPB for further inspiration.

Within the garden you can now find several raised beds, collections of flowers that fill the garden with vibrancy and colour, fruiting plants such as strawberries, bird and bat boxes, and feeding stations. A water butt has been installed to provide a supply of sustainable water.

A wonderful natural space for all

Since the project began the wildlife garden has been a great success. It is enjoyed by countless daily visitors to the centre and by an abundance of wildlife!

Within the first year of completing the garden, a brood of blue tits were successfully raised in one of the garden’s bird boxes. The colourful flora has been attracting bees and butterflies throughout the summer, inspiring visiting children to draw and paint.

The upkeep of this small but diverse garden would not be possible without the work and support from members of the Blackdown Healthy Living and Activity Centre and the local community. This project demonstrates that getting physical and hands-on with gardening not only benefits wildlife, but it is also great for everyone’s health and wellbeing!

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