The Garden has an amazing diversity of wild plant and animal life – some of it familiar and some very rare.
Across our mosaic of lakes, streams, marsh, semi-natural woodland, meadows and formal gardens we provide a home to over 1000 species. These include
- over 100 types of butterfly and moth
- hundreds of native plant species
- more than 56 varieties of birds
- thousands of frogs, toads and palmate newts
- common lizards, grass snakes and slow worms
- twenty species of mammal.
We can also boast of over 180 types of lichen, many rare types of fungi and 92 varieties of moss. We even know of 26 types of snail.
So why is there so much biodiversity?
The soil here is fertile. Boulder clay, dumped when glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago, has mixed in with the underlying sandy and silty soils derived from Old Red Sandstone bedrock below.
The climate is wetter and warmer than much of Britain and the air is kept clean by prevailing Atlantic winds.
But the main reason may be that large parts of our organically farmed Waun Las National Nature Reserve escaped the kind of over-intensive management which removed native plants from much of the British countryside during the 20th century. So rare plants and fungi, such as greater butterfly orchid, whorled caraway and waxcap fungi, together with a large range of invertebrates such as crickets, bugs, butterflies and moths, have had a safe home on our meadows. Badgers have been allowed to root amongst the mossy grassland for their main diet of earthworms and otters to hunt on the wet meadows for amphibians in spring. The tussocky nature of some of the grassland encourages voles, which in turn feed barn owls and other birds of prey, such as the great success story for Welsh nature conservation, the red kite.
We also have pockets of diverse semi-natural woodland. Boggy alder carr woodland near the Gatehouse contrasts with the drier oak, ash and hazel woods of Pont Felin Gat in the northern end, where bluebell, anemone and golden saxifrage carpet the ground in spring. These, and small hazel coppices, are rich in birds, ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi. They also provide a home for the dormouse, one of Britain’s most endangered mammals.
The Garden is an active member of Carmarthenshire’s Biodiversity Partnership and because of our wonderful grassland fungi here, we help to run the Carmarthenshire Fungi Group. To see how the work we do here links into local and national conservation initiatives, click here.
To see a list of species recorded at the Garden, click NBGW – FULL SPECIES LIST APRIL08.
April 2012 – Polecat caught on camera. Read the full story her
In 2013, a new Garden Wildlife Recording Group was set up. Made up of volunteers, the group meets every Tuesday morning at 10am and walks various routes all around the Garden and Waun Las NNR, recording everything from plants and fungi to birds, mammals and moths. If you’d like to join the group, email email@example.com or ring Bruce for a chat on 01558 667162. In the meantime, have a look at the weekly blog that group member Colin Miles writes.
In late 2013, a new Carmarthenshire Fungi website was created, featuring plenty of fungi from the Garden.