The Bamber Bridge couple with the environmentally friendly garden

PUBLISHED: 16:12 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:58 20 February 2013

Looking across the lawn

Looking across the lawn

Linda Viney meets a couple who have created a wildlife paradise right next to the M6

Creating a habitat for wildlife in your garden has become very fashionable, but for Jim and Dorothy Martin it is nothing new. More than a decade ago they were worthy winners of the wildlife friendly section of South Ribbles annual garden competition. This was just one of three categories they won over the years for their Bamber Bridge home.

Yet when they moved here it was a wilderness. Previous owners had obviously been keener on cars than gardening and, to this day, they unearth mystery items from the internal combustion engine.

They dont uses pesticides but instead trial combination planting and found this year that garlic spray has stopped the greenfly and the slugs, which caused havoc for many growers. They have three pairs of blackbirds nesting and thrushes have their favourite spot to crack the snail shells.

Everywhere there are bird feeding stations, bird boxes and Jim even built a hedgehog house.

Bird seed is always on the shopping list, Dorothy said. They have opened their garden for the last 14 years raising over 12,000 for the Childrens Society. We used to open in August but this year we changed it to June, Jim told me. I think we shall keep to June. Our grandson sold parched peas this year. It was his idea and they soon sold out.

This is a garden of memories for they have grown everything themselves either from seed or cuttings some gathered on holiday. There is a large herbaceous border with a wealth of colour - great for cut flowers in Dorothys arrangements.

Pots and hanging baskets add another dimension and some containers were planted up for St Saviours Church float at Preston Guild. The begonias are kept from one year to the next. So many people throw them away if you store the corms over winter they are fine, Dorothy explained.

Jim was a churchwarden for 23 years and proudly showed me a bench he was presented by the Bishop. He is especially fond of trees and these surround the garden helping to absorb the drone of the motorway, which is soon forgotten in the tranquility of a garden dominated by the sounds of nature.

Jim jokes that he is often seen hugging trees and the trunk of a eucalyptus he grew from seed is now so large his arms wont reach around. He is adapt at building things from a circular seat round a tree, arbour and the chicken run.

Their grandson must be following in his footsteps for he has built a bug hotel which is strategically placed in the woodland area. It is in this area you will find all kinds of places for beneficial creatures to call home - from piles of twigs to straw wrapped in a cylinder of cloth. There are various nick-nacks in the undergrowth, gifts from their grandchildren.

They love visiting gardens, particularly Holehird near Windermere, so much so they are now building up a collection of hydrangeas.

As we get older the garden becomes harder to manage especially the herbaceous border which need clearing and dividing, so maybe the hydrangeas will gradually take over, Dorothy said. Jim added: I would love an Alpine House like the one at Holehird, though that will probably remain a dream.

They do have alpines growing on in a raised bed by the patio to the rear of their bungalow as well as in pots. Well, its a start.

Two years ago they made a video of their garden as a keepsake and on a cold winter evening they see what will light up their garden at the start of the year from the snowdrops, moving on through the bulbs to the fresh young leaves of the acers appearing in spring leading to the colourful autumn. A glorious reminder of what is to come.

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