Birling Gap garden
Gardens are not only beautiful, they can also be functional. They provide shelter and food for many animals and can act as a refuge for plants against habitat loss in the wider countryside. The garden here at Birling Gap has been designed with these principals in mind, showing examples of different habitats that are to be found nearby. Many hundreds of hours have gone into the design, build and maintenance of this garden with the majority of this work by a dedicated volunteer team.
Chalk cliff top and gabions
Take a walk along the cliff top path on a blustery day and you will appreciate the persistence needed to survive life on the edge. Our cliff top gabions are miniature versions of the Seven Sisters, try and spot the purple flowering thrift the classic cliff top plant and the yellow flowers of biting stonecrop.
Shingle is a harsh habitat and only species that have adapted to survive these extreme coastal conditions can thrive. Two of the plants most likely to be found on stable shingle beaches are sea kale and yellow horned poppy.
The long thin spiral border illustrates the importance of wildlife corridors. These corridors aid the movement of wildlife from one habitat to another, reviving the decline of isolated populations. Foxglove and greater knapweed grow in the sheltered conditions and are an excellent nectar resource for pollinators such as bumble bees.
Quick to drain and poor in nutrients, the thin layer of soil over the chalk encourages large numbers of species to grow in a compact mosaic of plants. This balance of plants has been established over centuries of continuous grazing and management. Plants such as horseshoe vetch and mouse-ear hawkweed need short turf to thrive.
Classroom bench border
A mass planting of marsh mallow surrounds the outdoors classroom bench. This plant is a gift from Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank. Marsh mallow grows locally in the Cuckmere Valley on National Trust land around Alfriston.