2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. During the month of March, on behalf of Grounds for Learning, Alex Fowles and myself are delivering a number of workshops in Angus which look at how biodiversity can be taught in the Early Years. In conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage, GfL run this super “Wee Green Fingers” course which provides a pack of activities and seeds for participants to take away and undertake in their setting.

For schools and pre-school settings wishing to increase biodiversity within their school grounds or outdoor space, then planting native plants makes a big difference. Planting flowers, shrubs and trees that benefit different wildlife helps too. Below are lots of websites which may be of use. The photos are all from my garden as I like herbs and native plants.

Biting Stonecrop – An edible low growing native plant

A really useful general introduction to gardening is The Wee Green School pack from High School Yards in Edinburgh. Nearly 20 years on and it is still relevant and available to download from the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Jupiter Urban Wildlife Gardens at Grangemouth do sell plants to visitors. It’s a great place to visit and have a look at this YouTube clip about this place.

Golden Hop – This rampant climber covers one fence and even grows up into the neighbour’s maple tree!
Wild About Gardens is a great website that would be good for children to investigate the plants they want and why they are important for wildlife. Click on the ‘plants’ tab at the top of the homepage and then you are presented with a choice of: climbing plants, container plants, meadow plants, perennial and annual plants, pond plants, shrubs, trees.

Royal Horticultural Society website also has a plant finder section (click the ‘plants’ tab and then ‘plant selector’ before filling in the details of what you are looking for). This is less easy to navigate and the lists you get are not as user friendly (you only get the Latin names for a start off!). It also has a list of poisonous plants and pages for children and schools.

These rowan berries look beautiful yet the tree is slowly dying and I’m not sure why
For wildlife gardens, the Ernest Charles website has a good range of products including nesting boxes, bug pots, magnifiers, etc. The Living With Birds website has a lot of bird related products.

For insects and other minibeasts, the definitive one-stop website has to be Insect Lore. This company can also supply wee creatures to be looked after by classes. For information about worms and how to look after them, see Confessions of a Worm Worrier.

One of my favourite sites has to by the Organic Catalogue which is run by Garden Organic (HDRA), Europe’s leading organic gardening organisation. It sells lots of organic and heritage seeds and many other gardening products.

A curry plant – I put it too close to my front door which was a mistake as it’s very smelly!
The Field Studies Council produce a fantastic array of laminated identification keys and charts about UK wildlife. These laminated foldout charts are very helpful for quick identification of common plant and animal species, covering many topics from school playing fields to woodland plants and minibeasts.

The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) has a variety of useful books and practical materials. This includes a booklet about using and caring for gardening tools.

There are many books available on all aspects of gardening and outdoor learning. I have set up and regularly amend several Amazon Listmanias which can help you decide which might be worth purchasing. Thank you to the participant who told us about Grow It, Eat It!

Finally here are some lists of plants (excluding trees and shrubs) which may be of use to get you started on your gardening or biodiversity projects. It’s worth spending time, researching the flowering periods and other information to ensure that you order the right plants for your setting.

Low growing Scottish natives – suitable for a rock garden

  • Sneezewort (great for wet places)
  • Alpine lady’s mantle
  • Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla crantizii)
  • Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)
  • Biting stonecrop (Sedum acre)*
  • Sea campion (Silene uniflora)
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • White clover (Trifolium repens)
  • Lady’s bedstraw
  • Wild pansy (viola tricolor)
  • Thrift (good nectar plant)
  • Maiden pink (Dianthus deltoids)
  • Harebell (Campanula rotundiflora)
  • Creeping Jenny (Lsyimachia nummularia)
  • Thyme – all varieties
  • Heather – all varieties
  • Cowslip
  • Heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis)
  • Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

This snowdrift thyme is one of thirteen varieties of thyme I have in my garden – I’m not sure if they have all survived this winter though.

Sensory plants – many of these remain in foliage over winter. Not all are native to Scotland

  • Curry plant
  • Cotton Lavender (Santolina)
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Mint (keep in a pot)
  • Chives
  • Onion tree
  • Sage
  • Honesty
  • Coriander
  • Rosemary
  • Holly (if you only plant one bush, it won’t produce berries)
  • Thistles – put the prickly plants (and nettles) behind the other ones, so a child won’t accidentally fall and get pricked
  • Lawn camomile – can be planted in grass for an unusual scent
  • Camomile
  • Creeping savory (it’s a small plant – suitable for a rock garden)

Good tub or pot plants

  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Nasturtium
  • Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  • Sunflower
  • Lemon balm

Lavender sage – it’s my favourite sage and does smell like lavender!

Inhibitor plants

These shrubs and hedgerow plants act as effective barriers to discourage access. As native species they add to the biodiversity value of school and early years grounds, creating havens for wildlife. If the area links to wasteland or shrubs, hedgerows or woodland than it can create useful wildlife corridors for fauna. These plants should not be accessible to early years children as general rule.

  • Bramble or blackberry (Rubus fructicosus)
  • Dog rose (Rosa canina)
  • Blackthorn or sloe (Prunus spinosa)
  • Gorse (Ulex europea)
  • Hawthorn (Cataegus monogyna)
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)
  • Nettle Urtica dioica

Nectar flowers for butterflies, moths and other useful insects

  • Butterfly bushes (Buddleia)
  • Verbena (Verbena officialis)
  • Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)
  • Spring crocus (Crocus chrysanthus)
  • Anemone (Anenome blanda)
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)
  • Soldiers and sailors (Pulmonaria saccharata)
  • Forget-me-not (Myosotis spp)
  • Honesty (Lunaria biennis)
  • Sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
  • Aubretia (Aubretia deltoidea)
  • Sweet William (Dianthus barbarous)
  • Perennial cornflower (Centaurea Montana)
  • Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
  • Candytuft (Iberis umbellate)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
  • Tobacco plant (Nicotiana affinis)
  • Golden rod (Solidago Canadensis)
  • Marjoram (Oreganum vulgare)
  • Lavender (Lavandula spica)
  • Thyme (Thymus spp)
  • Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
  • Mint (Mentha spicata)
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)
  • Mallow (Lavatera rosea)
  • Leopard’s bane (Doronicum pardalianches)
  • Fleabane (Erigeron speciosus)
  • Cranesbill (Geranium species)
  • Sweet bergamot (Mondarda didyma)
  • Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)
  • Valerian (Centrathus ruber)
  • Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
  • Corncockle (Agrostemma githago)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
  • Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris)
  • Hollycock (Althaea rosea)
  • Michaelmas daisy (Aster spp)

August in my garden – the main plant is mallow, but the hop, catmint and everlasting sweet pea can also be seen. Hidden away is sweet woodruff that flowers in May.

Moisture loving native plants

  • Bog bean
  • Globe flower
  • Oxlip
  • Primrose
  • Purple loosestrife
  • Ragged robin
  • Meadowsweet
  • Marsh St John’s wort
  • Marsh betony
  • Marsh cinquefoil
  • Lady’s smock
  • Hemp agrimony

So as the snowdrops are nearing their sell-by date, the crocuses are in full bloom and the daffodils beginning to appear, I hope you all get a chance to get outside and get gardening with your children. Many thanks to Aileen Anderson, who works for Grounds for Learning who gave me some of the website links.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

CreativeSTAR March 21, 2010 at 21:05

Hello 時尚

Thanks for your comment – good luck with your own blog!

Best wishes


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