Welcome to the home of National Garden Wildlife Week.
An annual event beginning on Spring Bank Holiday and running for 7-days. During this week-long initiative we encourage people of all ages to connect with nature.

Celebrate National Garden Wildlife Week

Garden Wildlife Week 2024 in the UK begins on spring bank holiday Monday 27th May and runs for 7-days until Sunday 2nd June. It is an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy British nature while raising awareness of the worrying decline in animal and plant diversity.

What is National Garden Wildlife Week?

Putting up a bird nest box

The Spring Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday in May. It’s also known as the late May bank holiday, Pentecost or Whitsun. This makes it the perfect time to kick off National Garden Wildlife Week, as most schools and work places are closed, allowing more of us to get outside and enjoy our gardens. The week serves as a reminder that gardens are not only spaces for human enjoyment, but also crucial habitats for a variety of creatures.

During National Garden Wildlife Week, conservation organisations, community groups, schools, local authorities and voluntary groups are encouraged to organise various activities. Events include creating wildlife-friendly habitats, planting native trees and wildflowers, and building bird nest boxes, bee hotels, bat boxes, and ponds. Gardeners are encouraged to offer open days, guided walks, talks, and hands-on sessions that provide practical tips and ideas for transforming their outdoor spaces into havens for wildlife.

One of the central themes of National Garden Wildlife Week is biodiversity. In a world dominated by mono-culture agricultural practices, gardens offer a much needed refuge. Parks and gardens can provide opportunities to plant different and diverse plants. These support wider eco-systems, attracting more wildlife. They offer food and habitat for a multitude of mini beast, birds, hedgehogs and other animals. We have lost over 90% of natural wild meadows in the UK and birds and animals are all in steep decline. By choosing a diverse range of plants that flower over many months, we start improving the environment and help nature recover.

Children and families are an integral part of National Garden Wildlife Week. Many activities are designed to engage young people and instil in them a love for nature and wildlife. There are many resources available for families, schools and groups, to create fun and educational learning. We can all foster a sense of responsibility for the environment and learn simple steps resulting in positive action. Games can include bird or plant identification. Collecting natural materials such as leaves, feathers, sticks and stones to make art. Even a game of hide and seek brings everyone outdoors for a sensory experience. Seeing, hearing, touching and smelling, all add to the joy of nature.

National Garden Wildlife Week Calendar

In recent years National Garden Wildlife Week has gained momentum, so we have created a calendar to help synchronise events.

Year  Dates Days
2028 29th May Mon - Sun
2027 31st May Mon - Sun
2026 25th May Mon - Sun
2025 26th May Mon - Sun
2024 27th May Mon - Sun
2023 29th May Mon - Sun
2022 2nd June* Mon - Sun
2021 31st May Mon - Sun
2020 25th May Mon - Sun
2019 27th May Mon - Sun
2018 28th May Mon - Sun

*In 2022 Spring Bank Holiday was moved to Thursday, June 2nd in honour of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, which being on Friday 3rd, created a four-day long weekend. This caused some confusion for the actual dates for Garden Wildlife Week that year.


How did Garden Wildlife Week Begin?

Hedgehog foraging

Many nations across the globe celebrate the natural world with festivals and events, from India to the USA and we believed the UK was missing out on such enjoyment. We wanted the UK version of National Wildlife Week to be as inclusive as possible and a time we can all focus on the world around us from the point of view of nature and wildlife.

In 1973 the Government launched a campaign to encourage the population to participate in planting more trees. This was a time when Dutch Elm Disease was sweeping the country, killing millions of trees. ‘Plant a Tree in ’73’ was quickly followed by ‘Plant Some More in ’74’. Since then there have been a number of campaigns but no single annual event.

Towards the turn of the Millennium Ark Wildlife decided something more permanent was required and ‘National Garden Wildlife Week‘ was born. Starting on Spring Bank Holiday seemed the natural home, being the time when nature is at its brilliant best. The weather is improving and many work places and schools are closed.

During National Garden Wildlife Week we encourage everyone to get outdoors and do ‘one simple thing’ for nature, one garden at a time.
Sean McMenemy (Founder & Director of ark Wildlife Limited)

Top 10 Ideas For National Garden Wildlife Week

Child with a snail

1. Make a wildlife garden quiz. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
a) How many different birds can you hear?
b) Collect as many different leaves as you can.
c) Can you find a tree with flowers?
d) Try and identify as many flowers in the garden as you can.
e) Can you find an ants nest?
2. Take sheets of paper and crayons outside and take as many bark rubbings as you can.
3. With an adult’s help design and build your very own bird nest box.
4. Make home made bird food. Try different ingredients and watch and learn which birds like which type of food. Some eat seeds, others fruit and even more eat insects and fat.
5. Create a water feature for wildlife. It can be as small as a bowl or as large as a pond. Make sure there is a shallow end (for birds to bathe, animals to escape and mini beasts to come and go). It will need plants and native British water plants are best. Choose plants that grow under water (oxygenators), plants that grow on the surface, like water lilies and plants that like roots in the water but grow out and upward. These are called marginal plants.
6. Create a bug house or mini beast habitat. Collect lots of sticks, logs, stones, bricks and other items. Broken short lengths of bamboo shoots (and other hollow stemmed plants) are ideal. These can be made into a simple heap in a quiet spot, or bundled together and hung from trees. Many people make a stack of pallets and insert all the assembled goodies in the gaps. Try to have one side facing south in full sun, and the other facing north in shade. Notice the different animals attracted to the different habitats.

Child with a bug house

7. Make a gap for hedgehogs. Modern gardens often have strong impenetrable fences and hedgehogs need lots of gardens for their habitat. By creating a ‘gap’ (about 13cm x 13cm is ideal) in your fence and encouraging neighbours to do the same, helps hedgehogs travel and flourish.
8. Plant a tree. There is something wonderful about planting a small seed, such as an acorn and watching it grow throughout your life. Try collecting different seeds and nuts and see what grows. Plant an acorn in a pot and grow it until it is 60cm tall and then plant it in a place where it can grow to 30m or more!
9. Go for a night walk. These days we tend to retreat indoors or live under artificial lights. Look for a place, like a wood, and go out after dark. No torches! You’ll be amazed at how well your eyes adjust and your hearing becomes even more attuned to all the night creatures roaming. Please do not go alone and children should always be accompanied by an adult during night walks.
Nature is proven to be beneficial for our mental, emotional and physical health. 10. Simply get outdoors and do as much as you are able or happy to do. Stand, sit or lay quietly and simply absorb all the wonder of the natural world we all share.

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#GardenWildlifeWeek

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