The Wilderness was the original home on the site on Shirley Church Road, built by the Rev William Wilks, complete with a seven-acre garden designed by him on his retirement around the turn of the 20th century. It is now Hall Grange Care Home for older people.
The site of the garden was formerly part of Shirley Common, or Addington Hills as it is known today. It includes natural heathland and the little pockets of acid grassland and heathland heather. One of the most interesting features is the sphagnum bog, which is home to some very rare plant species. In addition, the bog area is the only remnant of a once more widespread habitat in the area and means that The Wilderness is designated a Site Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.
Wilks approach to gardening was non-interventionist and he sought to accentuate the natural beauty of the landscape rather than impose upon it. He managed The Wilderness and the work he put in to it is still visible today, albeit overgrown with many of the original paths and plant species either dormant or overtaken by more invasive plant species. Volunteers will help to develop a magical multi-generational outdoor experience for the residents of Hall Grange and of the local community through a range of conservation, restoration activities and tasks along with the promotion of the unique heritage of The Wilderness.
Join them to find out more about this exciting programme, the roles available, how volunteers will be supported and the benefits this exciting programme will bring to the local community.
Please go to the main entrance of the Care Home. Light refreshments will be served. You will be mainly indoors for a short presentation, meet the team and sign up opportunities. Please bring/ wear suitable clothing and footwear for an outdoor tour.
Monday 1st April 2pm- 5pm-To find out more about Garden Conservation and Restoration The main focus of this event will be let you know how you can help with practical gardening and conservation tasks as part of an exciting programme to Reclaim the Wilderness.
Tuesday 2nd April 2pm- 5pm- To find out more about Activities, Events and Green-care The main focus of this event will be to let you know how you can help with the delivery of a range of informal and formal outdoor learning activities for residents of Hall Grange Care Home and the wider community. They will also be letting you know about how you can help us to deliver an exciting seasonal calendar of community events in the Wilderness garden
Wednesday 3rd April 2pm- 5pm- Outreach and Oral History Project The main focus of this event will be to let you know how you can help with the delivery of an outreach exhibition inspiring people to engage further with the programme of Reclaiming the Wilderness. They will also be letting you know how you can help us take part in an exciting oral history project to capture the living memories of The Wilderness.
Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling
Head Gardener Alice Henry on 07966 232359
Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund