JENNY STEEL   Biography  

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JENNY STEEL has a degree in Applied Biology and a Master's Degree in Plant Ecology from Oxford University where she carried out research in the University's famous study area Wytham Woods, a place where her grandfather once worked as a woodsman. Her research into aspects of insect pollination and the ecology of beech woodland and arable land contributed to a variety of scientific publications. She is a lecturer and tutor in adult education, photographer and former plant nurserywoman, with more than 30 years experience of writing about and teaching wildlife gardening, organic gardening, and natural history topics. In 1990 she left University research to establish a plant nursery and demonstration wildlife garden in Oxfordshire called The Wildlife Gardening Centre which won an Oxfordshire Special Conservation Award. Her Oxfordshire wildlife garden was featured on the BBC gardening programme Gardener's World and on the BBC News as well as in many magazines.

Jenny has worked with The Shropshire AONB Partnership Scheme and has been involved in training volunteer staff for the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. She has also worked with Castell Henllys Iron Age Visitor Centre in Pembrokeshire as well as with several Shropshire biodiversity initiatives. 

Jenny is a passionate educator of both adults and children and for almost 30 years has been teaching courses and seminars and leading workshops on Garden Ecology for a large variety of organisations and companies including The Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley and Hyde Hall, Grand Designs Live at the Birmingham NEC, the London Wetland Centre, Oxfordshire County Council, the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, the Adult Residential Colleges Association, The Snowdonia National Park Study Centre, and the organic gardening company Wiggly Wigglers for whom she also wrote the book Bringing a Garden to Life. She has carried out staff training for the garden bird food companies Haiths and Ernest Charles and taught a series of courses for Oxfordshire teachers. She teaches courses and gives occasional talks, illustrated with her own photos, around the UK.

Jenny has worked as a ecological advisor on a variety of projects throughout the UK including the Millennium Green Project in Kingston Bagpuize in Oxfordshire and several local biodiversity projects for Pembrokeshire County Council. She was also involved with the Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme for whom she taught a series of Garden Bird workshops. She also contributed to their project Buzz in the Borders, aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of gardens for pollinators.  Jenny has worked with Butterfly Conservation to create a Butterfly Garden at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre. She is also a weekly  contibutor to the programme Shepherds Way on Bradley Stoke Community Radio Station. You can listen to some of her podcasts on SOUNDCLOUD.

Jenny's interest in the natural world began at a very early age.  She collected and reared caterpillars, bred sticklebacks in a small aquarium and spent many hours watching and cataloguing the birds and invertebrates in her parents' small garden in Oxford.  'At the age of eight I was cultivating my own border and counting and identifying the birds in my parents' tiny back garden in the middle of Oxford.  Robins raised their young in the climbing roses and swifts nested in the roof of our terraced house.  I threaded peanuts in their shells onto cotton to hang from the washing line and enjoyed the antics of the blue tits.  Things are not so different now!  I am a recorder for the British Trust for Ornithology, both of the birds in my current garden and in my local area and also record the moths visiting my garden. My scientific training means that I appreciate the value of these surveys and participating is a real passion, as is photographing the birds, moths and other wildlife in my garden.' You can find out more about Jenny's wildlife garden here.

Jenny's particular interests are plant and insect interactions, our native birds, butterflies and moths, growing native wildflowers and all aspects of garden ecology.  She is passionate about wildflower meadows, wildlife ponds, attracting garden birds, wildlife friendly herbaceous borders and growing vegetables.  She is a keen walker especially in the Shropshire Hills and on the Welsh coast.

Jenny has written for a large number of magazines and newspapers including Gardens Illustrated, BBC Gardener's World Magazine, Organic Gardening Magazine, Limited Edition Magazine, New Consumer Magazine and Countryfile Magazine.  Her work as an author now mainly revolves around writing books although she also writes for a variety of websites, blogs and magazines and writes for the British Trust for Ornithology magazine, The Bird Table.  She recently worked with the publishing company Brambleby Books to produce a series of books on individual Wildlife Gardening topics. These are Making Garden Meadows, Butterfly Gardening and Making Wildlife Ponds.  She wrote a regular monthly feature for The Countryman magazine through 2017.

Jenny has worked with the Herefordshire design company MYST to publish a series of iBooks - The Wildlife Garden in Spring, The Wildlife Garden in Summer, The Wildlife Garden in Autumn and The Wildlife Garden in Winter. These are available to download on this link and are also now available as a single volume covering A Year in the Wildlife Garden. Jenny has now published sixteen books on Wildlife Gardening and Wildflower Gardening and her book Bringing a Garden to Life, with a foreword written by Prince Charles, was launched at the Hay Festival. In addition she is writing a book unrelated to wildlife gardening but with a wildlife theme. There are two more books in preparation. Contact Jenny to buy signed copies of some of her books.