Calcareous grassland display

Local calcareous grassland habitats of Durdham and Clifton Downs are represented. This display showcases the herb rich grassland overlying the thin soils of these biologically rich areas. Species grown include: crested dogs tail Cynosurus cristatus and compact brome Anisantha madritensis into which herb plants will be planted including cowlsip Primula veris,horseshore vetch Hippocrepis comosa, kidney vetch Anthyllis vulneraria, and common centaury Centaurium erythraea. The removal of nutrient rich top soil and the importation of nutrient poor soil and aggregate mix from local quarries has helped to create a low nutrient environment, important to prevent strong growing grasses from dominating the display. The hemi-parasite yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor has been sown and will reduce the vigour of grass species further so allowing the herb flora to proliferate.

The display features a mown path allowing visitors to enjoy the diversity of grasses and herb plants. The addition of terrestrial orchid species will begin when the grass sward is established. Common spotted Dactylorhiza fuchsii already grows nearby and will doubtless seed itself into the display. Bee orchid Ophrys apifera and autumn lady’s tresses Spiranthes spiralis will be introduced at a later date.

Recently described whitebeamsfrom the Avon Gorge; Sorbus leighensis, Sorbus whiteana, Sorbus x avonensis, Sorbus x robertsonii and Sorbus x houstoniae are currently being raised in the garden for planting along one side of the calcareous grassland display.

A seasonal pool puddled with clay will be created to grow the local endemic Badgeworth buttercup, Ranunculus ophioglossifolius. This obscure local plant only grows in a seasonal pool at Badgeworth in Gloucestershire. Cattle entering the pool to drink poach the soft earth with their hooves bringing dormant seeds to the surface. This specific environment will be reproduced each autumn.