Garden and grounds of Overton House are in the Ealing Borough’s conservation area and so we try to look after the heritage of the house and to design and cultivate the garden appropriately. At the front of the house is a feature which is changed for each of the four seasons of the year, and in the gardens at the side and behind the house we have tried to make them interesting for visitors and friendly to wildlife.
HERBS: 2014-15: During the next year the herb collection will be replenished and re-organized into different sections. There is also a potager garden which is an old-fashioned type of vegetable garden behind the study centre.
For help with herbs please visit British Herb Trade Association and herbnet
ORGANIC: The garden is ‘husbanded’ by Mee Kuon Cheong, Esme Boyd, Jaap Westerbos and Fr James when in Ealing on organic principles. For example, the garden is frog-friendly and butterfly-friendly, with several small areas of water and damp spots, compost heaps and no insecticides are used.
You can find links here to many of the species living in the garden:
AMPHIBIA: Frogs and toads are sensitive to their surroundings, and are useful indicators of a healthy environment.
The frogs arrived from other local ponds and breed every year. [links for froggie sites: common frog info , froglife , frogs.org. Go to this site to see and hear european tree frogs (not yet resident in Ealing). 2011 was a great year for froggie breeding and in the Autumn there were lots of fingernail-size froglets hopping about the water sites. It seems that 2012 will be an equally good froggie year. We have added a new sunken water container for frog escape, swimming and hibernation. The first frogspawn of the year was seen on 1 March 2012.
Amphibia not yet resident include the common toad, spotted newt, edible frog and tree frog.
REPTILES: Grass snakes and slow worms (a legless lizard) are found elsewhere in Ealing, but not yet in our garden.
BIRDS: Regular visitors and residents include green and greater spotted woodpeckers and an occasional flock of ring-necked parakeets. Robins, blackbirds, song and missel thrushes, great, blue, coal and long-tailed tits as well as magpies and jays are year round residents. In the winter we have seen fieldfares, redwings and waxwings; in the summer, swifts, house martins, chiff-chaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps, and in the autumn linnets and goldfinches. The swifts have already left (August 4th 2012). Grey herons frequently fly over to visit garden fish ponds and to hunt frogs, and a pair of kestrels visits every spring looking for a nesting site on the Abbey church. We have a list of birds seen in the garden. Click here
British Trust for Ornithology, press here
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, press here
MAMMALS: Hedgehogs and foxes are frequently to be seen and breed every year, with field mice, wood mice, common voles and grey squirrels also present. Pipistrelle bats have been seen in June and July 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and we have put up bat boxes to tempt them to stay and breed. Several years ago we had a muntjac deer in residence for several days.
INSECTS: We grow special plants as food for caterpillars and to provide nectar for adults to attract butterflies at different times of the year. Since 2003 we have seen peacocks, small tortoiseshells, small browns, commas, fritillaries and red admirals; and a local speciality is our holly blue colony. We have stag-beetles, which are becoming rare, and whose larvae live in rotten wood. Every year since 2003 several flying adults were seen and heard in June and July at dusk.
article: G. K. Andersen, “Designed for Prayer: A Bibliographical Essay on Medieval Monasticism for Contemporary Designers and Gardeners”, Cistercian Studies Quarterly 36/4 (2001) 457-471. e-mail for G. K. Andersen.
© James Leachman, O.S.B., written 24 August 2014