The Theatre Garden
   More on the theatre garden

The Courtyard



 Primrose habitat

 Primrose survey

The Primrose roundhouse


Landscape Architect


 Calder High

Energy Garden

 Moorside J&I Garden

 Stubbings J&I Garden




  You are here Home   Gardening and Wildlife   Primrose Garden


 Primrose Garden

The garden is open for guided tours only.

Primrose Garden is situated on the opposite side of the Rochdale Canal along from the alternative Technology Centre. This north facing sloping wooded garden has given us the opportunity to experiment with productivity whilst enhancing it’s natural biodiversity and providing learning opportunities. Our aim is to grow plants and trees that produce materials suitable for craft activities in harmony with the garden’s existing and future wildlife.  

  This is done by planting native species and craft plants suited to the garden’s conditions. The number of different wild species (biodiversity) has increased as we have provided more wildlife habitat and food, which in turn encourages better plant health and pest control.



A willow coppice and pollards, wildlife meadow, native hedgerow, craft hedge, wet woodland and water’s edge plants will all encourage wildlife into the garden whilst providing useful craft materials. These are starting to blend in with the existing vegetation, making a beautifully natural space.


We are very lucky to have this beautiful patch of land (enclosed by the canal, footpath, steps to Fairfield and the turf roofed roundhouse) on loan from its owners and are very grateful for this opportunity. We used the principles below to make this wildlife craft garden:







We watched the plot for a year to see:

What plants and animals were already there before we did any work which might disturb them.

The different environmental conditions in the garden that indicate what type of plants will prosper there i.e. light or shady, damp or dry areas.

Which plants already exist indicating certain types of soil e.g. nettles indicate rich soil

Working with not against nature





Return to top


When we planted the hedge, we put down a thick layer of materials from the centre, which allowed the small plants to thrive without any extra attention. The rest is living mulch formed by plants growing together to cover the soil. This creates the conditions for wild soil (nature doesn't often have bare soil). The soil has a rich array of animals and micro organisms which help to make the nutrients available to the plants.


The woodland edge is the most dense and productive part of the wood. It consists of tall trees, smaller and younger light hungry trees below, shade lovers in the gaps underneath and sun lovers at the extremity. There is more light for plants to grow and protection for birds which feed and manure the ground below.







Minimum intervention

By not tree felling and by coppicing different trees in different years we imposed the least impact on the woodland ecosystem whilst still gaining useful materials.

Why disturb anything if it's not necessary? It leaves a better balance between pests and predators. The soil stays covered and more wildlife stays in the garden. We feel that we do more woodland management than actual gardening.


Time gives opportunities for different colonies of plants to thrive. This started as shady woodland and has been taken back to a young woodland e.g. coppicing and crown lifting (taking away some branches) has allowed an open glade with perennial meadow plants to thrive.





Return to top



About VisitsProjectsEventsWorkshopsInformation

Links Contact us Site mapNews


Alternative Technology Centre, Hebble End Mill, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 6HJ  Tel. 01422 842121