Pen and wash portrait of george stacey g

Wild about Walden

Here at Saffron Walden Museum we are wild about nature. The Museum has a long history of researching and learning from nature - in fact, the Museum was a natural history museum before it broadened its collections.

On this page you can learn about some of the steps we are taking to give nature a home in our grounds, as well as about George Stacey Gibson, a botanist from Saffron Walden who collected many of our plant specimens.

We also have some practical activties for you to try too!

What is "Bumble Bird Seed Mix"?


Bumble bird seed mix is used in the government's Countryside Stewardship programme.  We've planted it in our borders to give an abundant supply of small seeds during the winter months for birds such house sparrows, dunnocks, finches and collared doves.

The wildflowers are nectar-rich and will provide food for beneficial insects including bees, butterflies and hoverflies from spring into autumn.

The mix contains 34% Triticale, 34% Wheat, 2% Fodder Radish, 3% Gold of Pleasure, 2% Kale, 8% Linseed, 1% Alsike Clover, 1% Birdsfoot Trefoil, 7% Common Vetch, 5% Crimson Clover, 1% Lucerne, 1% Phacelia, 1% Red Clover.

bumble bird 2.jpg
bumble bird.jpg

Wildlife around Walden - what will you see?

Why not got for a walk around your local area and complete one of these downloadable wildlife trails.

Pen and wash portrait of george stacey g

George Stacey Gibson was a naturalist and botanist who wrote a book called “The Flora of Essex”. He was important benefactor and donor for Saffron Walden Museum and we have many objects in the collection which he collected.

Look out for a portrait of him in the Local History gallery.


  1. Born in Saffron Walden in July 1818. His family owned the Saffron Walden and North West Essex Bank.

  2. While he was still a young man he identified many new plants growing in Essex.

  3. He collected many plant specimens during his life, building an impressive herbarium. Saffron Walden Museum holds over 200 specimens collected by him.

  4. He published “The Flora of Essex” in 1863.

Wildlife and Wellbeing Planters

The three wooden planters were kindly made for the Museum by Saffron Walden Community Shed, and were first planted up on a special visitor activity day.

The tubs each have a different theme: Pollinators, Edibles, and Sensory. Some of the plants appear in more than one tub because they are good for different  things!

This is the left tub as you look towards the tennis courts. Some of the plants here looks like weeds, and that’s because they are – sometimes!

Plants like thistles or nettles are all wildflowers but they can spread quickly in a garden, which is why gardeners try to get rid of them. But they also produce a lot of nectar to help feed pollinating insects; without pollinators we couldn’t produce lots of the food we eat, from cereals to fruit.
It’s currently got a thistle, some white dead-nettle (it doesn’t sting), nasturtiums and marigolds.

This is the middle tub. It also has nasturtiums, which have edible leaves and petals with a slightly peppery taste. The petals are very rich in vitamin C, and a compound called lutein which is found in the retina of your eye.

The other plants in this area are spinach, lettuce and strawberries – can you tell which is which? The smallest pot also has a carrot growing in it, with delicate, fern-like leaves.

This is the tub on the right-hand side, and has plants that smell taste, sound or feel good. It has a large parsley bush, two small rosemary plants and a small bush of marjoram, a traditional English herb.

We hope some seeds we sowed at the end of May will germinate and give us a small clump of garlic chives. These chives have long, flat leaves and a white flower, instead of narrow round leaves and pink-purple flower of normal chives.