The UN has declared 2010 as International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) and as part of its programme of awareness raising, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is teaming up with an number of bloggers to offer a competition with RHS membership as its prize :)
Concern about biodiversity isn't new as far as the RHS is concerned and it's one of the main reasons why I value it as an organisation. As pressure on our countryside is set to increase over the coming years, the role we gardeners can play in the conservation of wildlife and the preservation of its diversity is immense.
In a recent survey conducted by the RHS, 95% of gardeners saw themselves as 'stewards of the environment' and 96% said this was an important area of research for the RHS to do. Their recently revamped website now has a large section dedicated to Biodiversity and the gardener which outlines what the RHS is doing and also providing practical ideas, hints and tips on how we might all garden for wildlife.
All the RHS gardens will be running special trails on 22nd May as part of International Day for Biological Diversity, then the week after at Chelsea Flower Show the RHS Advisory Team will have the RHS Biodiversity Display (see above - picture courtesy of the RHS) as part of the Continuous Learning section in the Grand Marquee. This will show different ideas for planting combinations, and experts will be on hand to give practical advice.
If you can't make any of these events, then it's worth checking out the Biodiversity and the gardener link above, or visiting the Wild About Gardens website for lots more information and ideas for your garden. The latter is a collaboration between the RHS and the Wildlife Trusts: I've signed up for their email newsletter and get a monthly dose of timely ideas for encouraging wildlife into my garden. You may also like to read about my general approach to wildlife gardening here.
After that preamble, it's now time for the all important Competition!
All you have to do is email me (vegplotting at gmail dot com) a photograph demonstrating biodiversity in your garden, and a short description of no more than 100 words on how you encourage it. A winner will be chosen shortly after the closing date of Sunday 9th May. I'm hoping to rope in NAH as my independent judge, though he doesn't know it yet.
The RHS are kindly offering a prize of RHS membership for one year (worth £43) to the winner. Benefits of membership include free entry to RHS gardens (if you’re lucky enough to have one near you), free access to over 140 RHS recommended gardens (so a much better chance of finding something close to where you live - I used my membership to visit Westonbirt Arboretum last week, for instance), 12 issues of The Garden magazine, and free access to expert horticultural advice.
I'll announce the winner here ASAP after the closing date and the winner's photo may be posted on the RHS website. The judge's decision is final. The winner will receive one year's free membership of the RHS. Open to UK residents only.
Good luck and I look forward to seeing all your entries!