At the start of our visit at Ryewater Nursery in June we were allowed into the tropical butterflies breeding room, door closed to prevent any escapees, where Ed Whittingham explained the breeding life cycles of these beautiful exotic butterflies as they whirled around us amongst their favourite food plants. These butterflies are specially bred for butterfly world garden centres around the country and so it was fascinating to see them at this early stage. Uniquely the population of butterflies in the greenhouse are self-sustaining.
Under construction is a lake which will become a reedbed for warblers. It has a raised plank path 'sweetway' leading to and from a reed-roofed building housing a 6,000 year old bog oak sculpture.
Ryewater is a stunning haven for wildlife, not open to the public, unless for small groups by pre-arrangement and their full time ecologist Wren Franklin showed us round. Areas for ecological nurturing such as a pond with protective hedgerows for great crested newts and a rounded, ancient looking cool house to encourage nesting bats were complemented by large sculptures and artfully designed structures embedded into the landscape. Here was a land that was bursting at the seams with wildflowers and habitats for wildlife, to protect their way of life with a creative passion that was so unusual to see. We felt very fortunate to have spent half a day there.
Photo: Avocets (Izzy Fry)
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