The Visitor Centre garden was designed to inspire visitors to try things in their own seaside gardens. Features incl raised pond, wildflower meadow, woodland section, borders, raised bed, bug hotels and vegetable plot. Bird boxes with cameras, log pile and a gateway for hedgehogs. Plants incl wild flowers (to reflect the nature reserve) and a variety of garden plants.
Visitors can also explore the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre and its gift shop. Interactive exhibitions about the history, geology and wildlife of Hengistbury Head and regular art exhibitions.
How to find us
Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre, Broadway, Southbourne, Bournemouth, Hampshire, BH6 4EN
Near Christchurch on southern side of Christchurch Harbour. From B'mouth, take Southbourne Overcliff Drive, then Southbourne Coast Rd. Eventually, turn R onto Broadway. From Christchurch, cross R Stour on B3059. After r'about turn L onto Broadway.
More about Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre Garden was started from scratch in December 2013 when the Centre opened to the public. It is in a unique location, and is in fact the most easterly garden in the borough of Bournemouth. It faces due south, and is only about half a mile from the sea. Despite the often windy conditions at Hengistbury Head, it receives shelter and protection from the Double Dykes ancient monument, a Bronze Age burial mound, and the Visitor Centre building itself. Wildlife is encouraged in the garden - Hengistbury Head itself is a Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The pond attracts dragonflies, the occasional courting mallards, and a variety of aquatic creatures. A Red-legged Partridge lives in and around the garden, and Greenfinches, House Sparrows and other birds feed on the bird feeder just beyond the garden fence. The activity on the feeder can be observed on one of the webcams inside the Visitor Centre. Blue Tits nest in one of the bird boxes each year, and the progress of this, from nest-building to egg-laying, hatching to feeding, can all be viewed from one of our webcams. In the spring and summer months, the wonderful song of Skylarks can be heard above the ancient meadows adjacent to the garden.
The wildflower meadow provides fantastic colour in June and July, and consists of cornfield annuals such as Poppies, Cornflowers, Corncockles, Corn Marigolds and Corn Chamomile, as well as Yellow Mustard and Lacy Phacelia. The borders are full of interesting plants throughout the year - Cerinthe proved one of our most popular last year. Further colour is provided by Borage, Thrift, geraniums, geums, Feverfew, Love In The Mist, Rose Campion, Penstemon and many more.
One of the bug hotels has a very successful Sedum roof, which has proved a popular feature, and there is a newly planted (2016) Chamomile lawn by the pond, which is also doing very well. Both of these are things that have happened thanks to our dedicated group of garden volunteers, who are here every Wednesday morning throughout the year, looking after and improving this special garden.
Another extremely popular feature of the garden, which attracts a great many comments from visitors, is the wooden furniture. These benches and seats are carved from oak and depict wildlife from otters to foxes, kingfishers to dragonflies, as well as trees and vegetation. Each one is a work of art in itself.