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 Primrose Garden Habitat

The garden is open for guided tours only.

Biodiversity importance of the site

Important habitats

A description of  some plants in Primrose currently & their potential uses:







Biodiversity importance of the site

The water vole, kingfisher and bat are all locally important species who might use the site and are at risk from habitat loss.  All natural places support a different range of plants and animals depending on the rock type and climate they are in.  Wherever it starts from, bare rock or pond, the vegetation will go through changes over time which eventually result in this special assortment.  It is the plants and animals that inhabit a place (as well as other factors) which change it so that new plants and animals find it easier to live there which then grow there. They might change the soil, the amount of food available or the humidity, this is called succession.


The rock type and climate of an area, together with the species already there, can therefore give an impression of what other species might grow on a site, and how that might change in the future we can then use this information to grow the right sort of plants in the garden. This means that the local wildlife will find conditions in the garden more suitable, plants will thrive there and so need less input from us, and little will be thrown out of balance.

Tactics of some plants

Some examples of what the plants on the site are doing:

Goat willow colonises damp ground and heavy soils, it dries them out so that less tolerant trees can grow there.  Bramble suppresses more vigorous weeds, allowing shade tolerant trees to grow up under it.  Nettle holds on to disturbed, fertile soil. It draws the fertility into its leaves and then at the end of each season it puts it back into the soil in a form that other plants can make better use of. 

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Important Habitats

The brush hedge is an ideal site for invertebrates, particularly spiders. Low nesting birds like robins and wrens will also use it. These all make good predators of aphids and other insects that would damage garden plants. 

Willow catkins provide an early source of nectar for insects. Their foliage also supports a range of insect larvae. The foliage on the site is quite thin and high, as a food source it would be improved if coppiced. 

Nettle foliage is an important food source for herbivorous insects as the plant is generally left alone by the larger herbivores. Populations of carnivorous insects (such as the lacewing larvae shown in the picture) can build up in them which (being more mobile than the herbivores) can also visit garden plants and help control aphids.

Large flat flowers like the hogweed provide food for hoverflies, whose larvae and adult feed on aphids, the stems also provide winter homes for these sorts of garden predator,  the seeds are an important food source for birds in winter.

Bramble fruits keep the birds and small mammals well fed, they may take less of a share of cultivated ones. Dry stone walls provide nesting holes for birds and winter homes in much the same way as the brush hedge. Tree trunks, especially rotten ones, provide habitats for a different range of invertebrates as well as providing roosting sites for bats. 




A description of some plants in Primrose currently & their potential use:







Salix caprea (Goat willow)
Used by Gypsies to make clothes pegs for sale. The fresh growth is too brittle for most basketry work but can be used where little bending is required. The leaves and, most often, the bark can be used for dying. The branches with catkins are used to decorate churches on palm Sunday.

Acer pseudoplanatus (Sycamore)
The timber is often grown as coppice for woodturning, or as it is fast maturing and does not warp, for furniture. Local craftsmen have been using large sycamore trunks for making drums. The tree makes an excellent wind break near the coast, as it is able to withstand salty winds better than other hardwood trees. The tree under which the Tolpuddle Martyrs met was a sycamore, and is still standing.

Rubus fruticosus (Bramble)
The bramble is a very useful plant apart from its obvious berries collected for eating in early autumn. The berries can also be used for dyeing cloth (whether you want them to or not). The stem can be dried and made into twine, or they can be used whole for weaving. Bramble covers a large area of ground but only roots at either end of the stem; thus they suppress shade intolerant weeds with very little root competition. It is because of this that they make a good nurse species for shade tolerant tree seedlings (like oak). The stem (with prickles still on) also make quite an effective cat deterring mulch.

Epilobium angustifolium (Rosebay willow herb)
Rapidly colonising disturbed ground, the plant brightens otherwise bare sites such as demolished buildings and waste ground. The outer stems can be dried and made into twine whilst the downy seeds make excellent tinder.

Urtica diocea (Nettle)
Nettle is another of the really useful plants on the site. In early summer, the young leafy tops can be boiled and eaten, they are also the parts mostly used to yield a light green dye, although the roots can be used. Later in the year, the stems can be dried and used to make very strong rope. The fibres can also be extracted and spun to make rough cloth or paper. Nettles make a good tonic tea and were harvested in the second world war for medicinal chlorophyll.

Fraxinus excelsior (Ash)
The ash is a very useful timber tree. Its wood is strong but not brittle, it therefore makes ideal tool and weapon handles (the word ash comes from the Nordic aesc which means spear). The keys (fruits) were often pickled and eaten. The light shade it casts makes it an ideal standard to grow over coppice.

Heracleum sphondylium (Hogweed)
The hogweed stems are hollow and ideally suited to making peashooters (for children of course). The stems should be dry first as they contain traces of a chemical that can harm sensitive skin. Earlier in the year, the young shoots are edible like asparagus, although other member of the same family as hogweed are very poisonous so care needs to be taken when identifying the plant. When the leaves are more mature and bitter, they were used to feed pigs, which is where the name comes from.

Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)

Hawthorn timber is very hard and can be used for carving and other fine work; it matures a golden orange if left in the sun. The leaves can be eaten in salads when young; the berries are also eaten in jams or used made into a wine. Even the thorns can be used being relatively strong; they were used to make fishhooks. The thorns also make the tree and ideal stock proof hedge.

Senecio vulgaris (Groundsel)
Gathered by children to feed guinea pigs.

Rannunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup)
To tell whether or not someone like butter!





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