RSPB Wildlife Garden

Jointly funded by Essex & Suffolk Water and Dedham Vale AONB Sustainable Development Fund, the RSPB Wildlife Garden is designed to attract wildlife and not just birds!

  • The pond (see below) is colonised by wildlife including newts, greater diving beetles, and water boatmen, which visitors are able to see from the boardwalk built around it.
  • Plants in the borders have been chosen because they are drought tolerant and can provide a long season of nectar and pollen to help bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
  • The People’s Wall for Wildlife was built by Cobnuts Co-operative with the help of local community groups. Using traditional building materials of flint, cob and thatch, combined with pottery sculptures made by local groups, the wall provides living spaces for insects and invertebrates.
  • With water conservation in mind, the garden’s design incorporates a 7,500 litre underground water tank, which collects and stores rainwater from the adjacent barn for use in the garden in periods of low rainfall.
Official opening by Ronald Blythe 11 August 2011
The new pond on the site of the sister's bungalow

The garden is name the Sisters’ Garden after sisters Sylvia (born in 1909) and Margaret (born 1913) Richardson, who were Len Richardson’s daughters.

Neither of the Richardson sisters married and when they died,  (Gargy in 1999  and Sylvia in 2000) they left their café buildings, dairy and land (described six hectares of water meadow) to the RSPB. Planning permission for the wildlife garden was not approved until 2009.

The ‘Sisters’ Garden’ at Flatford has been designed to be a memorial to their  love of nature and to be a living legacy for wildlife as well as an inspiration for garden visitors to experience, enjoy and learn to create spaces for wildlife in their own gardens.

 Both Sylvia and Margaret were brought up with their parents and older sister Kathleen at Valley Farm. Both of them inherited their father’s enthusiasm for birds, the latter regularly brought injured birds home for the girls to nurse back to health. The girls sisters also kept a rook and a badger as pets and bred and trained racing greyhounds

Black and white photo of Margaret and Sylvia Richardson with pet badger
Gargy and Sylvia with their pet badger and terrier
Gargy and Sylvia with their greyhounds

Their mother Louisa (who died in November 1925) worried as she saw the family income evaporating. She wanted to provide her daughters with a means of earning an independent income and helped them open a tea room on the land where the RSPB garden now stands.

For more information about the sisters please click Richardson Sisters

For more information about the wildlife garden please click RSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden