In our time at Stillingfleet Lodge we have planted up the garden with shrubs, trees and perennial borders. We have also let the grassland return to meadow, dug a wildlife pond and set up an organic vegetable plot.
Our entire ethos is one of sustainability – not just in how we manage the garden, but also in the tea room and plant nursery.
Encouragement of Wildlife.
Our objective is to encourage as much wildlife as possible to live in the garden to give a balanced ecosystem. It is known that suitable wildlife habitat is under increasing threat as the countryside becomes more developed and suburbanised.
Our aim is to provide an oasis which is especially suitable for small birds. As a result of our endeavours we are pleased to report that we can identify up to 45 different bird species in an average season. The Butterfly and Moth Conservation society regularly trap moths in the garden, so far they have recorded almost 300 different moth species.Counts by the bumble bee society have recorded 9 species of bumblebee.
How we encourage wildlife
- There are many bird-boxes situated throughout the garden, mostly on north or east facing situations. They are of different designs known to encourage different bird species. There a some for woodpeckers, owls and sparrows and varieties of tit.
- A substantial bird feeding area is maintained throughout the year.
- We have two hedgehog boxes and leave water out for them. Many of the hedgehogs in the garden have been released here by a hedgehog rescue charity
- Grey squirrels and magpies, all of which predate on small birds’ eggs and young, are kept under control.
Piles of logs are left undisturbed when freshly cut, so as to season until ready for firewood for our woodburners and also to provide habitat for a multitude of small mammals, beetles, frogs, toads, newts, hedgehogs etc.
- We have several insect hotels to provide space for insects to hibernate
- We keep and breed guinea fowl and rare breed chickens which roam freely in the garden. They are excellent for clearing up the slug population, and other pests! While these are interesting for visitors, provide eggs for the house and for sale, they also turn over the compost heaps, remove bugs and add to the enrichment by their droppings.
- Our apiary of beehives provides pollination to all the various plants in the garden and beyond.
- We keep white doves to entertain our visitors. They breed prolifically and provide premium feeding for a family of sparrow-hawks (a protected species) in an adjacent wood!
- A traditional wild flower meadow is maintained to support a profusion of butterflies, moths and British native plants. This is cut and left to ensure all seed drops.
- No fungicides or pesticides are used, this benefits wildlife and staff who are not at risk. Slug pellets are never used.
- We do not use any chemical fertilisers, instead using our own compost from one of our nine compost bins, leaf mould and farmyard manure from the next door farm.
- We leave seed heads to provide food for birds and protection from the cold for many insects.
A business constructed around the growing of plants which absorb carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen is the ultimate in low carbon footprint and environmental sustainability. We aim to reuse every (so-called) waste product on site. Most surplus waste material can be recycled on-site without environmental damage or concern.
- All soft vegetative matter, tree and shrub prunings, offcuts, kitchen waste, biodegradable café waste, newspapers etc is put into one of our nine compost bins. Because the garden is organic there is no vegetative matter that cannot be recycled; even the grass cuttings go into the compost bins or is used directly as an effective mulch. The compost produced from such varied content is an invaluable nutrient and weed suppressant for the flower and vegetable beds.
- Fallen leaves are collected and held in a decay bin to create leaf mould for spreading on the flower beds, to condition the subsoil.
- Trimmings from trees are used (after seasoning) as logs or kindling for log burning fires.
- Comfrey is specifically grown to compost down to very valuable nutrients, and for its use as a weed-suppressing mulch.
- Chicken manure collected from the chicken sheds is spread on the compost bins to speed up the decay process.
- The display vegetable garden provides almost all the vegetables for the house.
- Disposable plastic cups are not used.
- Plant pots and labels are re-used rather than tipped.
We aim for a minimum water usage policy, so, for example, the roof water is collected and used to maintain water levels in the pond.
We aim for a minimum electricity usage policy. No heating is used in the nursery except in the propagation frames. Instead we cover plants with fleece as frost protection.
Low Food Miles
We aim for a low food miles policy with no quality compromise.
- Cakes for the tea room are made locally using responsibly sourced materials.
- Jams, condiments and chutneys are supplied by a farm diversification 8 miles away
- Quality ice creams are provided by Yorvale, an award winning ice-cream maker 8 miles away.
- We sell locally sourced low cholesterol cooking oil made from rapeseed.
- Quality chocolates made by a small chocolatier in York are offered in the tea room.
- Fairtrade coffee and tea is used.
- Honey from our own bees is sold in the tea room. This is said to be especially beneficial for hay fever sufferers who respond to local pollens.