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Natural History & Gardening

Despite its small size, Woodbury Park Cemetery is a significant refuge for plants and animals within a densely built-up area. Because it was carved out of unimproved grassland, it retains a wide variety of flowering plants including red clover, pignut, wild strawberry and lady's smock. As a result of agricultural 'improvement', natural flower-rich grassland like this is increasingly scarce in the wider countryside, often surviving best in enclaves like churchyards and cemeteries. As part of our biodiversity plan, some areas are being left uncut through the growing season to foster wild flowers and protect the habitat of caterpillars and other insect life.

As the cemetery also has many trees, including yew and Scots pine, some flowers more characteristic of woodland may also be seen. These include lesser celandine, wood anemone and dog violet. Between 1970 and 1998, local botanist Mary Page built up a list of over 150 flowering plants and ferns from the site.

Because of its floral diversity, the cemetery supports a wide variety of insects and other small wildlife. Butterflies include grassland species like the Meadow Brown, and others like the Speckled Wood which prefer more shady locations. There are seven species of bumblebees, and an extensive list of solitary bees and wasps, many of which nest in burrows in sunny banks. Recent new arrivals are a colony of Ivy mining bees.

Whitetailed bees, ringed hover flies, antennaed wasps, fringed woodlice and and robber flies were among the insects excitedly examined through magnifying glasses by local children and their parents during nature trails led by Dr Ian Beavis around Woodbury Park Cemetery recently. One of the children is seen here with her bugbox ready to capture some of the scurrying inhabitants of a yellow meadow ants nest being uncovered by Dr Beavis. A "bug hotel" for insects in a sheltered spot by the chapel has been built by primary schoolchildren and RHS-style labels help visitors to identify the trees featured in the Friends Tree Trail.

A moth survey, identifying a wide range of night-flying insects, takes place at Woodbury Park Cemetery.

Head over to the resources page to find out more about our extensive natural history and gardening work and to view our recent Gardening Reports

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