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Wildlife Garden 
by Niddrie Mill Primary School

Back to Wildlife Areas list On to Hunter's Hall Park
This triangle of land was once a wildlife garden for Niddrie Mill Primary School. Although it's been left to run wild, it still contains many different plants.

alder.jpg (29591 bytes)
Common Alder - 
male catkins (long and thin),female catkins (pinky red) and cones

There are many Alder trees here, on the Burn’s edge (Niddrie Burn). Alder is very valuable in many ways. Firstly, it grows in wet places. Growing beside streams, its roots help to bind the soil together to stop erosion. Its roots also have nodules on them, which contain bacteria that ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil. This means that nitrogen is converted to nitrates, which can then be taken up by the tree, and the other plants that grow beside it. 

The trees produce male and female catkins before the leaves, in winter. The female catkins become woody when they form seeds and they look like small pine-cones. Small birds like to eat these seeds, especially Siskins. 

The wood is resistant to rotting in water and was used for clog soles in days gone by. The timber was also used to build waterside structures, including the ‘crannogs’ that were built in many Scottish lochs. These were artificial islands, used as sanctuaries for people and livestock when villages were attacked. Perhaps this is why the Alder was known in folklore as a symbol of secrecy and places of refuge. 

Other trees here include Cherry, Birch, Ash, young Scots Pine, a large Willow by the burn, Rowan, Elm and Sycamore. On the other side of the burn are Sycamore and Birch.

There are also some shrubs that are very valuable for wildlife: Elder, Hazel, Brambles and Dog Rose. Ground plants include Dock, Cow Parsley, Ground Elder, Hogweed, Giant Hogweed, Rosebay Willowherb, grasses (mostly Cocksfoot), Few-flowered Leek (in spring), Cleavers, Lesser Celandine, Creeping Buttercup, Daffodils, mosses, Stinging Nettles, Butterbur, Common Reed, White Dead Nettle, Comfrey, and Ivy on the wall.

Keep a lookout for Starlings taking baths in the burn, Mallard ducks on the water and Siskins in the Alder trees.

What to look out for and When

Spring Summer Autumn Winter

White flowers of   Few-flowered Leek

Kidney-shaped leaves and starry yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine

Yellow Daffodils

Spikes of Butterbur flowers

Drooping yellow flowers of Comfrey

Different flowers of Grasses

Delicate white flower heads of Cow Parsley, Ground Elder and Hogweed

Red/pink flowers of Rosebay Willowherb

Butterflies and insects

Green cones on Alder

Giant Hogweed skeletons

Papery catkins on Birch trees

Huge Butterbur leaves

Bright red Rowan berries

Birds eating seeds and berries

Reddish catkins and small, dark cones on Alder trees

Siskins in the Alder trees

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