Outside the Garden Walls

 

The lease held by the Amisfield Preservation Trust includes almost as much land outside the garden walls as inside. The area stretches from the golf course footpath in the north to the ha-ha ditch to the south of the garden, and to the road in the east. We are managing this land for wildlife while keeping the paths open for walkers to enjoy.

The woodland to the north comprises mature trees of Sycamore, Ash, Oak and other species with a well-developed woodland ground flora. There has been some management here recently to remove the invasive, non-native Rhododendron bushes. If left to spread these plants would eventually dominate the ground layer of the woodland to the exclusion of most other plants and wildlife. In spring time the woodland is full of bird song and even roe deer can be seen here on occasions.

There are several very large mature Field Maples to the east of the garden. Field Maple is more commonly thought of as a hedgerow shrub or small tree, but these magnificent specimens show the tree at its best. They are perhaps now approaching the end of their lives but many new trees were planted here when the Trust first took over management of the area.  These are native species that will create a new woodland habitat as their canopy closes in the next few years and they replace the ageing Maples. There is also a dense area of snowberry here. Snowberry, like Rhododendron, is an invasive non-native species that suppresses the native woodland flora. However, this dense thicket of snowberry provides shelter for animals, nectar for insects in the spring and berries for birds in the autumn. Snowberry elsewhere within the woodland will be managed in the future to prevent it from dominating the whole woodland and suppressing the native species

The ha-ha (or ditch with a vertical face on one side that keeps livestock out without obstructing the view) to the south of the garden is full of aquatic plants and wetland wildlife.  It adds a completely different habitat to the area, while the meadow between the ha-ha and the garden wall is a meadowland.  It is mown once per year to prevent encroachment of trees and shrubs and is home to many grassland species including wild orchids.