WILDLIFE enthusiasts had the opportunity to explore the open gardens of a fifteenth century estate to mark Wales Nature Week.

The Nature Day, held at Nantclwyd y Dre, a Grade II-listed property built in Ruthin in 1435, was organised by Denbighshire County Council with the aim of getting people outside and learning about wildlife and celebrating the diverse wildlife that Wales has to offer.

The gardens, originally known as The Lord's Acre, pre-date the building, first mentioned in 1282 in connection to its owner, Marcher Lord Reginald de Grey, who subdued an uprising by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native prince of an independent Wales.

As part of a nationwide effort to promote Wales' wildlife, the Nature Day on Saturday, June 9 was supported by Cofnod, the Local Environmental Records Centre, who worked with wildlife experts to identify as many species as possible on the site. The final total is still being calculated, but the site is know to be home to over 100 species of native plant, 15 species of bird and 6 species of bee.

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson said: “As it’s the first time we have run this event it was fantastic to have the support of so many local and national wildlife conservation organisations who came along to exhibit on the day. The number of visitors exceeded expectations, as the gardens are one of Ruthin’s hidden Gems, not visible from the road.

“Our native wildlife is under threat, nearly 60% of our species are in decline, and almost 7% of Welsh species are at risk of extinction from the UK. Wales Nature Week provides many people with their first opportunity to meet with local wildlife organisations and learn about the important conservation work which goes on near them.

“It is so important that children are given the opportunity to learn about wildlife, and why it is important. The more they understand it, the more likely they are to value it and help protect it in the future.”

A wide range of organisations attended in support of the event, including but not limited to the North Wales Mammal Group, Amphibian Reptile Conservation, Cwlydian Range and Dee Vallery Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, North Wales Wildlife Trust and the North Wales Little Tern Group, who held various activities and exhibitions to engage families and children in learning about the wildlife around them.

The garden, which had been renovated by the DCC's Heritage and Countryside team over three years from 2015 to its official opening in May 2016, are looked after by the team and a group of volunteers and school children.

A DCC spokesperson added: “We had lots of freebies on offer including nature explorers packs with magnifying glasses, notebooks and pencils, free wildlife themed face painting. Our exhibitors also had lots of fun wildlife themed activities such as barn owl pellet dissections, garden wildlife tours, bug hotel making sessions, wildlife themed arts and crafts, and wildflower seed bomb making sessions.

“The house and gardens are a haven for wildlife. A colony of rare lesser horseshoe bats live and breed in the attic during the spring and summer. They get in and out of the house through a specially fitted window space, and we monitor their numbers each year. There is a webcam which is hosted by Chester Zoo, which means anyone interested can go online and watch the bats in their roost.

“We aim to build on the success of this year’s event, with more organisations, activities and talks taking place next year.”