Chalk Grasslands – a rich and diverse ecosystem

Walking the dogs up Beacon Hill the other week, got me thinking about the beautiful chalk grasslands around Hampshire and how important they are. The thin lime soil supports a rich and varied selection of plants and insects, being home to between 30 and 40 different species, and that’s just in a metre squared!

Sometimes referred to as Europe’s tropical rainforest, this diverse eco system is home to some of the rarest inhabitants in the UK and they’re right on our doorstep, ready to be explored! Beacon Hill (pictured), South Downs and Salisbury Plain are all chalk grasslands, with an abundance of flora, fauna and wildlife. From rare butterflies, glow-worms, short and hardy plants, grasses, wild flowers such as rare orchids and (my favourite!) wild herbs like: thyme, marjoram, basil and wild garlic – just like an Italian kitchen!

Sadly, it’s not all good news, the UK’s chalk grasslands are under threat, with more than 80% lost since World War II, mainly due to changes in land use, agricultural intensification and historic use of pesticides and fertilisers, there are fewer and fewer of these areas left to establish naturally.

Get out and enjoy your local grassland while you still can and if you want to get involved and do more to help in its conservation contact your local wildlife trust – www.wildlifetrusts.org

When it comes to cultivating your own garden plot just give me a call on 07821 623196 for friendly advice, planning and planting.

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