Bird identification: British Trust for Ornithology: https://www.bto.org/
Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Founded in 1836 this is an organisation dedicated to advancing the study, understanding and enjoyment of wild plants and support their conservation in Britain and Ireland. They run citizen science projects such as Plant Alert. The BSBI also produces national Atlases and county Floras of the distribution of plants.
British Dragonfly Society: This is a group which work to increase public understanding and awareness of dragonflies and damselflies, including their conservation, in order to increase action for dragonflies across Britain. Their site covers all dragonfly-related topics, from their origins 300 million years ago to their species distributions across Britain today.
Bugs & Pests: For help with identifying garden pests, see the British Bugs.org website.
Butterfly identification: UK Butterflies lists all known butterflies in UK & Ireland.
Herbs: see Jekka’s Herb Farm – Jekka’s Herborium & plant directory is a great resource. (This was the source of our seeds for the beautiful white borage, when we visited the Wirral, spring 2019). Jekka McVicar used to run Jekka’s Herb Farm and has won more than 60 RHS Gold medals; she is a member of RHS Council and became President of the Herb Society (UK) in January 2013. She now operates solely as an online shop selling herb seeds. McVicar created a ‘Herboretum’ to showcase her 650+ collection of different herbs. (RHS The Garden, November 2012, p.12).
Horticultural history: See the RHS Garden Wisley,’s national Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, with interactive learning areas and Laboratory.
Plant Explorers: A website dedicated to plant hunters and explorers, with sections also on botanical artists. There is much here on the history of the development of Kew Gardens in London England.
Plant identification: visit photoid.naturalvision.de (or tweet @id_birds, @id_butterflies or @id_wildflowers).
Royal Society of Biology: See their website for outreach, photography competition information and their free resources packs on biology, science, ecology and the environment. See their links under ‘general interest‘ for updates on policy campaigns, education, outreach, and more. the RSB’s Biology Week is celebrated early October.
Wild Food Identification (Foraging Guide): see WildFoodUK
Starting a wild garden in your yard or within your community?
Check out these resources:
- For information about wildlife in gardens visit http://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org
- rhs.org.uk/get-involved – RHS Gardening in the Community – for information on setting up community garden or vegetable plot, fundraising guidance etc.
CITIZEN SCIENCE LINKS
Ask an Expert: Visit Sense About Science to ask a relevant expert to explain your query in layman’s terms: http://www.senseaboutscience.org.
Citizen Science: The Guide to Citizen Science was published by the Natural Environment Research Council UK. It can be downloaded from http://www.ukeof.org.uk/co_citizen.aspx
Garden Butterfly Survey (UK): The Garden Butterfly Survey allows you to record and report the butterflies that visit your garden over the course of a year. Create a free account, submit your sightings and help the people at Butterfly Conservation learn more about how butterflies are faring in UK gardens.
Great British Bird Watch (RSPB): Take part in the world’s largest wildlife survey on 25-27 January and do something great for nature. Just choose an hour any time over the three days and enjoy time with nature counting birds. In January 2020 almost half a million people participated, counting around 8 million birds, making it the biggest community bird watch in the 40 years of this important citizen science event. Read the results from Jan 2020 by clicking here.
Plant Alert: A citizen science project launched by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland in June 2020, calling for gardeners to report potentially invasive garden plants.
OPAL: The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is a UK-wide citizen science initiative that allows people to get hands-on with nature, whatever their age, background or level of ability. They develop activities and resources, including national surveys, which allow you to get closer to your local environment. The OPAL Network is led by Imperial College London and includes leading museums, universities and environmental organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, OPAL supports an extensive network of active public participants located throughout the UK and beyond. See their very useful identification guides on birds, bugs, amphibians, trees and more!
IRISH GARDENS & RESOURCES
Burren Perfumery, in Co Clare features a cute garden on site, and create an amazing selection of perfumes, hand creams and ointments from flowers and botanicals that grow in the limestone lunar landscape of the Burren. An awesome place to visit, albeit relatively remote.
Huntingbrook Gardens, in Co Wicklow is Jimi Blake’s ‘Garden of Ireland.’ Sited near where Counties Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare meet, Hunting Brook Gardens is home to one of the largest private collections of plants in the Republic of Ireland. (See RHS, The Garden, Dec 2017, pp35-39.) He started the gardens in 2002 on a 20 acre parcel of land. He is a knowledgeable teacher and holds classes and plantspersons courses each year.