Mike and Gill Cunniam

Holne, Dartmoor

A one acre garden nature reserve - wood meadow, pond, plants for pollinators, bird and bat boxes. All helping to attract a lot more insects and bird life

We moved to Hilltop Holne in the first week of 1999. We have an acre of ground. The wildflower area is a big L shape which is mainly at the southern end of the garden and also up the eastern side parallel with the lane that descends to the centre of the village.

We have encouraged a range of wildflowers and we mow narrow paths through the grass

In about 2008 we went to Widecombe to collect bags of mown hillside meadow from Dr Seale and gave some money in aid of Devon Air Ambulance. We asked if any Orchid seeds might be transferred to Hilltop. Dr Seale said hopefully there would be a few but it could be over six years before germination. After just over six years we had our first Orchids. Recently we counted twenty three Orchids, so they seem to be happy at Hilltop and multiplying!


As the wildflower area has matured we have been pleased to see a lot of yellow rattle develop which, of course, helps to control the grass. We have bought cowslips and fritillaries to add to the existing primroses and daffodils. Every year we split up clumps of snowdrops and there is now a good show. Snowdrops : always welcome after a Dartmoor winter.

We cut down the wildflower area in late August and leave the cuttings until mid to late September which hopefully will help seed dispersal.

We have noticed a lot more insect and bird life in the wildflower area and the garden as a whole

Beyond the wildflower area we have a sizeable bug/ bee hotel which is being used by a variety of solitary bees laying their eggs and filling the holes with a mixture of pollen and nectar. We try to grow as many bee/insect-friendly plants as possible which complements the wildflower areas.

Robin, Tit and Bat boxes are being used. Our Barn Owl box has not been successful; no Owls but probably the odd Squirrel! We have four bird feeding places used by Tits, Robins, Siskins, Sparrows, Red Poles, Bull Finches, Goldfinches, Chaffinches and, rarely, Long Tailed Tits and Woodpeckers.

Our ponds also help to attract a variety of wild life

We are very lucky to have an acre of garden and to see a variety of cultivated and wild flowers appearing every year with all the insect and bird life they attract. We will try to add to and improve the garden in the future.

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