Every creature counts – Annual Garden Wildlife Survey

Annual Garden Wildlife Survey Tuesday 6th August
This year’s Annual Garden Wildlife Survey takes place on Tuesday 6 August from 10am – 3pm normal garden admission costs apply. There’s no need to book, and £5 of each garden admission ticket will be donated to the Knoll Gardens Foundation.

If you’d like to know more about the wide variety of creatures that may be living in your garden the Knoll Gardens Annual Garden Wildlife Survey is a great place to start. Led by experts from the Dorset Wildlife Trust, this special day takes place every year to create a vital snapshot of the wildlife activity in this east Dorset garden. The survey provides an important year-on-year record, and offers the opportunity for everyone with an interest in wildlife to get involved – beginners and experts alike.

Learning more about the relationship between Knoll’s flora and fauna is a key part of the work of the Knoll Gardens Foundation, the garden-based charity set up to understand the ecology of the garden and encourage others to adopt techniques that benefit the gardener and garden wildlife. In addition to the Annual Garden Wildlife Survey the Foundation also organises regular surveys of its populations of birds, butterflies, moths, bees, dragonflies, reptiles, mammals and bats.

“2019 has already seen some unusual sightings across the country with hot weather in Europe bringing an influx of Painted Lady butterflies in June and  unusual birds including the European Bee Eater and Purple herons”, said Knoll’s owner Neil Lucas.

“Whilst we are not expecting to spot anything as substantial as a heron, we will be on the lookout for rare Scarce Chaser dragonflies as we have had a female guarding her territory by a pond for nearly two months and would love to see her find a mate”.

Scarce Chaser (female)
© Keith Powrie

Painted Lady
© Keith Powrie

“Last year the survey also found an amazing variety of other insects including long-winged Conehead crickets, Batman hoverflies, Beewolf wasps and Fork-tailed Flower Bees. We hope they are all still thriving alongside the garden’s many other insects, birds, mammals and reptiles. I’d encourage everyone to come along and find out more about the wide range of creatures that may be living in their own gardens.”

This year’s Annual Garden Wildlife Survey takes place on Tuesday 6 August from 10am – 3pm normal garden admission costs apply.  There’s no need to book, and £5 of each garden admission ticket will be donated to the Knoll Gardens Foundation.

Daily Echo Article re the survey here 

Butterfly Watch

Below, a recent report from Keith Powrie of weekly butterfly monitoring carried out on the 6th July.
It will be interesting to see how the improved weather of late might affect forthcoming sightings.

A chance to see for yourself:- Guided Butterfly Walk – 19th July 2019 – £5.50
In line with the nation’s Big Butterfly Count, dedicated lepidopterist Keith Powrie leads a walk from 11am to 12.30pm around the gardens to help you identify the many butterflies to be found there. Keith has been recording butterfly sightings at Knoll for many years and brings an infectious enthusiasm to any guided walk.
Book online

On the 6th June, a female Scarce Chaser Dragonfly was seen in contest with another female, for a territory on the left of the path leading to Mill Pond.

Scarce Chaser (female)
© Keith Powrie

One month later and the victor is still holding the same territory – unless they’re taking turns! It would be great if she could find a mate and the Gardens could have their own breeding pair. Unfortunately we’ve never seen a male in the Gardens, so we hope she has better luck than us.

June was a complete washout as far as weather is concerned and the conditions required before a walk can be carried out, were seldom met.
Consequently, emergence of summer butterfly species has been delayed and curtailed.

Painted Lady
© Keith Powrie

The average count for Week 14 is 21 – only 14 were discovered this year.
4 Green-veined Whites; 4 Meadow Browns; 4 Large Skippers; 1 freshly hatched, second brood Speckled Wood and, a glimmer of hope for the rest of the summer,a Painted Lady – a migrant carried over on the southerly winds of recent.

June Sightings

Our thanks to Keith Powrie for this latest report and pictures from the Garden.

Week 8 produced just a single Holly Blue.  Since then the weather has been abysmal and quite unsuitable for carrying out any butterfly counts, consequently Week 9 was missed completely.

On Thursday, we managed to fit in a walk for Week 10, before the promised deluge. It was pleasant in the sun, but the north-westerly wind made its presence felt when the clouds appeared.

Once again, the butterflies were thin on the ground, with a female Common Blue being the only one of real interest.

Common Blue (female) June2019
© Keith Powrie

Large Red and Azure Damselflies were present at all the ponds, with a few also scattered around the Gardens.

However, the sight of 2 female Scarce Chasers together, around the flower beds leading to the Mill Pond, more than made up for the lack of other dragonflies.

Scarce Chaser (female) June2019
© Keith Powrie

Friday 21st June – Two good reasons to visit

It is a National Garden Scheme (NGS) Open Garden day at Knoll on 21st June and the Dorset Wildlife Team will also be here with their ‘Get Dorset Buzzing’ Roadshow.

The NGS is the most significant charitable funder of nursing charities in the country.
Your visit today will help its work. Normal admission charges will be donated to NGS.
In the Garden today is the Dorset Wildlife Trust ‘Get Dorset Buzzing’ Roadshow.
This year Dorset Wildlife Trust aims to get 1,000 gardens in Dorset doing at least one thing to help pollinators, whether it’s planting up some pollinator-friendly plants, building a bee hotel, or simply leaving a wild area.

We are delighted to support this important campaign and welcome the DWT Roadshow to Knoll. With fun activities, hints and tips it is a great way to find out how to ‘Get Dorset Buzzing’ in your garden. (Free garden admission for members of DWT and anyone joining DWT on the day. Please show your membership card on arrival)

Get Dorset Buzzing is a Dorset Wildlife Trust Initiative. Find out more from the Get Dorset Buzzing website Link below:


To find out more about the National Garden Scheme use the link to their website below:-

Friday 7th June – We Value Volunteers

In celebration of National Volunteers’ Week we offer free admission to everyone who gives up valuable time in any volunteering capacity.

Meet up with our own volunteers in the morning or simply relax as you enjoy a stroll around our naturalistic garden.

We welcome new volunteers at Knoll and a member of the Knoll Gardens Foundation team will be around to provide more information.

Please bring some proof of your volunteering status to gain free admission

Entry 10am – 3pm

Foundation volunteers at work in Knoll Gardens

Spectacular Spring Butterfly Count

The environment in the garden is clearly working for our wildlife as this recent report and picture from Keith Powrie,  (our friendly expert in lepidopterology and odonatology) shows :-

Orange Tip
Courtesy and © Keith Powrie

“Last week’s count was pretty spectacular.
21 butterflies seen of 5 species:10 Brimstone; 2 Green-veined White; 7 Orange Tip and 1 each Peacock & Speckled Wood

This week with a temp of 25°C (Compared to 13 last week)
only 13 butterflies seen:4 Brimstone; 7 Orange Tip and 2 Speckled Wood.

However, the first damselflies of the season were spotted.
2 Large Red Damselflies, 1 at the Upper Falls Pond and another at the north end of the gardens.

Also a pair of Buzzards were observed chasing a Red Kite out of their territory behind the tunnels.

And a Grass Snake was seen swimming across Upper Falls Pond, eventually taking refuge under the overhanging Gunnera leaves.

Quite a jolly day out!”

Midsummer Concert

Regrettably this event has been cancelled. Please check later in the year
for further information.

Experimental midsummer music in glorious Knoll Gardens

Fans of experimental music have a rare opportunity to hear In C by Terry Riley, one of the greatest living minimalist composers, in the glorious surroundings of Knoll Gardens in Wimborne in June.

Tickets for this midsummer evening concert are £10 and gates open at 7pm. Audience members are encouraged to bring rugs, blankets and a picnic to best enjoy this innovative meditative 1960s experience in the garden.

Ticket numbers are limited and can be booked online through knollgardens.co.uk. The performance is taking place as a fundraiser for the Knoll Gardens Foundation.

Following their 2018 appearance at Knoll, Dorset-based musical ensemble Gerauschhersteller will return with a special midsummer outdoor performance of Riley’s acclaimed composition at 7.30pm on Friday 21 June.

Riley composed In C in 1964 as 53 short repeated melodic and rhythmic cells in C major. How often each melody is repeated, or how coloured or intensified, is completely the choice of each individual player. Every version is different and the beauty of the piece lies in the variety of harmonic and rhythmic detail generated by these simple cells.

Terry Riley was among the most revolutionary composers of the post-war era; famed for his introduction of repetition into Western music motifs, he also masterminded early experiments in tape loops and delay systems which left an indelible mark on the experimental music produced in his wake.

Stuart Riddle, speaking on behalf of the group, said “In C uses very simple components, and some simple rules, to create a piece that is different and new each time someone plays it – it can be meditative, intense, or even funky. We are really honoured that Knoll Gardens have given us the opportunity to perform on the evening of the summer solstice and take this piece back to its roots in 1960s counterculture and Terry Riley’s own all night performances”

Gerauschhersteller’s new CD features highlights of their 2018 performance at Knoll.

Glow-worm Larvae spotted

Those present during the Wildlife Gardeners Question time segment of our  First Knoll Gardens Foundation Community Lecture would have heard Nick Dobbs mention that he had recently seen glow worm lavae in Knoll Gardens.

Nick is overseeing our reptile surveys at Knoll and has kindly provided some words and pictures for our benefit (below)

Lampyris noctiluca is the glow-worm species most often seen in the UK. These nocturnal beetles, known as common glow-worms, are found across Europe and Asia. It can be tricky to tell common glow-worm females and larvae apart, as they both have similar-looking segmented bodies. But the larvae have distinct reddish spots on the outside edges of each segment, which don’t occur on adult females.

Glow Worm (Lampyris noctiluca)
Picture: Courtesy and © Nick Dobbs

Good for gardeners, the larvae prey on snails. Adults don’t eat anything.

Males can fly and are distinguishable from females by the hard wing case covering their bodies and their far smaller size. Adult female glow-worms have a large, light-producing organ at the end of their abdomens. At night they use a bright, steady stream of yellowish-green light to attract flying males. During the day they burrow underground to avoid predators.

Glow Worm (Lampyris noctiluca)
Picture: Courtesy and © Nick Dobbs

A female will climb to a high point, such as a grass stem, and turn her glowing light upwards. This ensures that she is as visible as possible to flying males. Adult female grow up to 20mm in length, and live for a few weeks, until they mate and lay their eggs.

Their lights are bioluminescent – the natural production of light by an organism created by a chemical reaction.

Our thanks to Nick Dobbs