Garden survey

Leaders Mark Hill in collaboration with the Cambridgeshire Mammal Group, Rosie Earwaker, Monica Frisch and Duncan Mackay

Urban domestic gardens occupy a substantial proportion of the area of British towns – about 20-25% according to a study in Sheffield. They are a notable resource for wildlife and full of interesting plants. In summer 2016 we developed a protocol for recording species in gardens and tried it out in four. We are looking for gardens in as many Cambridge monads (1-km squares) as possible. We are trying to spread the gardens out so that we have only one in each monad.

In each garden we note the plant species, and ask the owner to tell us of the vertebrates that they have seen in the past two years. We also record what we find when we go there. We ask the owner for information about management, in particular pest control and wildlife management. Then we go and make records of (1) Vascular plants (summer), (2) Small mammals (autumn) and (3) Bryophytes (winter). As part of the plant recording we take soil samples and note the weeds in two squares of size 1 m² placed in flower beds.

Gardens sampled in 2016

Rosie Earwaker being interviewed for Cambridge TV

The last garden of 2016 was sampled in October, and we were interviewed for Cambridge TV by a team led by Jamie Wyver. This was an unusual garden in that there were no flower beds but lots of bushes and trees with berries. Of course, there is no such thing as the average garden. If you have a garden that you are willing for us to record, or if you would like to join the garden survey team, get in touch with us at NatHistCam@gmail.com . We will send you a prospectus and questionnaire for our survey.