Old Durham Gardens- Conservation and Old Traditional Methods

Anne Porter Heart of Durham, Heart of Durham Blog, News, Uncategorized

Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Project’s work with community groups, in unexpected places, helps provide a visible presence of the Trust’s work in carrying out conservation projects that will benefit wildlife.
Working with the Friends of Old Durham Gardens, the project is helping to promote biodiversity on the fringe of an urban environment.

The walled garden at Old Durham Garden

Established more than 350 years ago, Old Durham Gardens, owned by Durham County Council, is the perfect place for all things traditional. Lying less than a mile from Durham city centre, and  reached through a number of pleasant woodland or riverside walks, the gardens provide a tranquil and charming public space for people to enjoy.

A teasel head provides an architectural focal point along the wall

Since 2010, the gardens have been managed by a group known as the Friends of Old Durham Gardens who are rejuvenating  these historic gardens and it is an ongoing project which requires a great deal of work. The friends are thus very grateful for the support of a large volunteer group like Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Project, who using traditional tools like scythes can achieve a great deal in the day.

Ready for action

Swooping in like Eco Heroes the Heart of Durham volunteer team provide the help that is required to manage some of their larger grassland areas. These parts are being managed to encourage a proliferation of wild flowers which will attract bees, insect’s butterflies and moths. Good pollinators for the gardens old established orchards and for the new but “old” varieties that the Friends are planting within the walled gardens.

Old varities of cherry and pear trees have been planted by the Friends to replicate those that may have been found there 350 years ago.

Scythes are just the job and probably would have been the tool of choice when the gradens where established.

The cut grass is raked and led away

Last year, 2016, as a partnership organisation with Northumbrian Water Limited,  Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Project teamed up with Northumbrian Water’s, “Just an Hour” Scheme, to do a range of tasks for the Friends of Old Durham gardens. They moved manure to the fruit tree beds, cleared rubble as well as cutting the grass in the meadow areas.


The support given to the Friends of Old Durham Gardens gave the Heart of Durham Project a mention in the Old Durham Gardens Spring newsletter, which  is good publicity for Durham Wildlife Trust.