Alan Titchmarsh Unveils Ratty’s Refuge

  • 4 June 2021 4:55 pm


Alan Titchmarsh Unveils Ratty’s Refuge – The First Ever Garden Designed To Help Save Britain’s Water Voles – The UK’s Fastest Declining Mammal

Ratty’s Refuge, the UK’s first ever garden designed to inspire and motivate gardeners to help conserve the water vole – the UK’s fastest declining mammal – was opened today by Alan Titchmarsh at the River & Rowing Museum (

He was joined by school children from Oak Green School in Aylesbury to celebrate the opening of the garden, named after Ratty – the Water Vole star of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, which celebrated its 100th birthday last year. The River & Rowing Museum houses the UK’s only The Wind in the Willows exhibition and has a gallery dedicated to river ecology.

The garden will be used to help educate children, gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts in how they can help save Ratty the water vole by adopting these simple and fun ideas in their own gardens (see ‘Top Tips’ below). Wild! – a new educational course which encourages children to study real animals in their riverside habitats – will be unrolled at the River & Rowing Museum to coincide with the garden opening.

The water vole is Britain’s fastest declining mammal with 1990 levels recording a national water vole population of just over seven million across the UK. By 1998 numbers had crashed to less than 1 million, a decline of almost 90 per cent in just seven years. Predation by American Mink and poor watercourse management have accelerated its decline. The Government has recognised its plight and from 6 April 2008 the water vole was given extra protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Gardeners are uniquely placed to help halt the water vole’s decline. The River & Rowing Museum’s Ratty’s Refuge garden demonstrates how waterside gardeners and those within 1km of a watercourse can get involved in helping to secure Ratty’s survival by using native planting to create a green refuge for water voles and other wildlife.

Alan Titchmarsh said: “Wind in the Willows is my favourite book, it’s integral to my life and like Ratty I simply love messing about in boats! The most important thing in today’s society is that we imbue our children with a sense of joy and knowledge of the natural world, its plants and animals, and that children have a chance to learn about the importance of environmental stewardship and conservation. This is why Ratty’s Refuge is so important!”

Paul Mainds, Trustee & Chief Executive, River & Rowing Museum, said: "We’re delighted to welcome Ratty’s Refuge into its new home at the River & Rowing Museum. As well as encouraging the water vole population to grow, right here on our doorstep, it will prove an excellent resource to teach children, gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts how they can play a part in saving Ratty. We’re even introducing a new educational course that will use Ratty’s Refuge as a place to explore and learn about animals and their riverside habitat.”

The River & Rowing Museum’s Ratty’s Refuge debuted at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2008 and won a bronze medal. It was designed by Capel Manor College graduates Angela Potter and Ann Robinson of English Eden. For more information on Ratty’s Refuge please visit