In this podcast, Knepp ecologist, Penny Green, gives us a behind-the-scenes insight into the pioneering Knepp Wildland project. A 3,500 acre estate in West Sussex, once intensively farmed, it’s now a nature-led ecosystem where grazing animals such as long horn cattle keep the grass down, allowing wild flowers to come through leading to increased wildlife and biodiversity.
Penny talks to a range of specialists on everything from beetles to earth worms, delving into the creatures’ life cycles and breeding habits. Butterfly fans will enjoy episode 11 and 12 with Matthew Oates, a field naturalist, who talks passionately about orange-tip and purple emperor butterflies. Dr Rebecca Boulton from the University of Exeter goes in depth into the lives of ground nesting sweat bees, including tales of how the workers and the queens are adapting to climate changes.
Joint owner of Knepp, and author of the best-seller Wilding book, Isabella Tree takes a walk with Penny to discuss scrubland, the role of the large herbivores, tree planting and the future vision for Knepp.
There’s an interview with Charlie Harpur, head gardener of the walled garden at Knepp who talks about how they’ve transformed the Victorian walled garden from a croquet lawn to a more sustainable and biodiverse garden. This involved using a sand and concrete substrate and creating undulations with sunny bits and shady areas to create a mosaic of complex habitats for the varied and unusual native and non-native plant species. As Penny walks down the ‘dirty path’ made of breedon gravel, that has soft edges with Mediterranean plants growing through it, she spots wildlife such as wagtails, tortoise beetles and dragonflies. It’s an exciting dynamic horticultural experiment and the podcast shows how we can all do something to rewild our gardens and land.