Natural Futures at BHLAC

This project came about late in 2015, following a conversation with James Maben from the Blackdown Hills AONB.  The aim of the project is to encourage the abundance and diversity of wildlife in the area – and to enhance the well-being of all who visit, work or volunteer at the Healthy Living Centre.

It turns out that gardening to encourage birds, bees and butterflies is good for you!

We’re grateful to Hemyock Parish Council who kindly agreed to us using their Natural Futures grant to fund the project.

Getting Started …

The project launched in April 2016.  James, Rob Grimmond (from the Somerset Ornithological Society) and Julie Steed visited Cameo Club for the introductory workshop.  We heard about birds in the area from Rob, and planting to attract them from Julie.  Subsequently Cameo members, staff and volunteers decided on tools, equipment and plants.  We’ve now acquired planters, a water butt, a collection of plants and tools and put up two new nesting boxes.

Click here to see the plan we made at the workshop.

Click here to see the initial Cameo Club plant list.

Click here to see the list of equipment Cameo Club decided to buy.

Summer 2016
In mid-June we saw the first family of tits raised in one of the new nesting boxes, fly down to the bird feeders outside the Cameo Club window.

By this time, Bookworms had also filled their first planter, drawn some wonderful bees and butterflies – and come up with a plan for their second planter (anything orange or red!).

Bee in Bookworms planter

Despite unseasonably cool weather in July, the Bookworms planters have flourished and become a magnet for bees and hover flies.

The children who come to Bookworms have also enjoyed the occasional strawberry!

Click here for the 2016 Bookworms plant list.


2016-07-04 10.59.06

Cameo Club also worked on two planters in 2016 – one in full sun and the second in the shade at the end of the terrace.

Some of the gardening had to be brought indoors during poor weather, but the full sun planter looks wonderful, while the shade planter is ‘work in progress’.

Click here for the 2016 Cameo Club plant list.



Spring 2017

After a winter of browsing gardening guides, plant catalogues, joining the RSPB and celebrating the first year of Natural Futures gardening with tea and cake, Cameo members decided on a shopping list of plants for the new season of gardening.  Plans also included growing lots of dahlias, which thrive on the south-facing terrace, and finishing the shade planter which members began last year.

Meanwhile Bookworms set their sights on sunflowers …

Julie and strawberries

… and Brightside, with help from Julie Steed, planted a trough full of strawberry plants.  The strawberries were a great success!









And, helped by all the summer rain, the dahlias were huge …









Our new garden shed helped to keep tools dry – and handy for Cameo members when they popped out to do a bit of gardening after lunch.


Thank you …Bee on echinacea in Cameo planter

There are many people we would like to thank for their help and support with this project.  The full list is here.