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Wildlife in NTS gardens

Local Wildlife

Our gardens provide a home for a wealth of Scotland's native species, ranging from butterflies to birds and bats. It is estimated that over 2000 species of plant, insect, bird, and animal may be present in any one single National Trust for Scotland garden. That includes species such as the Pygmy Shrew, which is about as heavy as a 1p piece, to a mature Oak, which can support over 400 different species of insect and mite living upon it! Some of the rarest species can be found in our gardens, including:

  • Nationally important assemblages of Waxcap fungi on the lawns of Haddo House (at what is probably the best site for waxcaps in the country) and Hill of Tarvit
  • A nationally rare lichen on trees at Leith Hall
  • 5 bat species found living and feeding in National Trust for Scotland gardens throughout the central belt
  • Other examples of wildlife you may see are otters at Malleny Garden or red squirrels in the gardens at Brodick Castle

Global wildlife

Plant species that are becoming threatened in their native lands abroad are cared for in our historic plant collections, helping to ensure that the species survives. The National Plant Collections in our care are administered under a national scheme by Plant Heritage NCCPG.

Birds, such as Swifts and Swallows, also frequently nest and breed in our gardens after long trips from Africa. In winter we receive Scandinavian birds, such as Fieldfare and the exotic-looking Waxwing.

Garden Practices

As part of our conservation aims, the National Trust for Scotland aims to reduce as far as possible its use of inorganic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. In addition, we have a policy that works towards reducing our use of peat in horticultural composts which, in the long term will help protect fragile raised-bog habitats in both the UK and Ireland.

Surveying and Monitoring Wildlife

In the last few years we have started to undertake wildlife audits within our gardens. In order to help with this huge task we are asking both staff and visitors to record what species they see in our gardens at all times of the year.

All of this information, together with specialist surveys, will help to direct action to conserve and further enhance the wide range of wildlife found in all areas of our gardens, and contribute to our on-going monitoring of species. For example, in 2002 there were over 90 pairs of breeding birds from 19 different species recorded in Geilston Gardens.

Want to find out more?

Why not visit our gardens to see 'Garden for Life' in action, and enjoy the diverse flora and fauna living there? Many of our gardens contain nectar-rich borders, providing food for a wealth of insects, or contain examples of features and practices relating to Garden for Life.