10 unusual parks or gardens in London…7. Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Garden…

A scene from the Wildlife Garden. PICTURE: Kotomi_ (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

Opened in July, 1995, this garden in the grounds of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington has been found to be home to more than 3,300 species.

A scene from the Wildlife Garden. PICTURE: Kotomi_ (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

The garden, located on the corner of Cromwell Road and Queen’s Gate, and covering a single acre, was envisaged as a “place to put habitat creation and wildlife conservation into practice”, according to the museum’s website, where visitors can learn about wildlife in the UK and where naturalists, students and museum scientists carry out research.

It features a variety of habitats –  everything from woodland, grassland, scrub, heath, fen, aquatic, reedbed, and hedgerow as well as urban environments – and among the species living there have been hedgehogs, common frogs, ladybirds (Rhyzobius forestieri) and Greyface Dartmoor sheep which are brought in to graze in the autumn.

‘Bioblitzes’ are held during the year by experts and amateurs which involve recording as many species of plants, animals and fungi as possible within a day.

Under the museum’s Urban Nature Project, all five acres of the grounds are being transformed into a fully accessible green space that promotes urban wildlife research, conservation and awareness and according to the museum, the Wildlife Garden will have an integral role to play in that with its overall size doubled (check before visiting to ensure it’s not closed for the renovation work). The new gardens will open next summer.

WHERE: Wildlife Garden, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington (nearest Tube stations are South Kensington and Gloucester Road); WHEN: 11am to 5pm daily until 31st October (closed during wet weather); COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/galleries-and-museum-map/wildlife-garden.html

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