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the station. Younger children have a playground stocked with equipment and older kids can play in a ‘kick about area’ at the southern side of the grounds. Adults in search of peace and quiet can wander through the long Rhododendron Walk along the eastern boundary, although the views from the large lower meadow mean that there is a feeling of space for the mind to wander. Families can eat together at the Harvester Restaurant which overlooks the sweeping grounds to the Downs beyond.


The family appeal of Beech Hurst could not be better described than the memories of one mother of two: “I can remember my mum taking me and my sister for a picnic, train ride, then a game of pitch and putt golf. I would love to pass this memory on to my children.” Another resident noted how “people enjoy the space, the views, the birdsong, the pergola and plantings and freedom to make their own entertainment.”


names of some species read like a roll call of diversity: common cats-ear, mouse-ear hawkweed, hop trefoil, fi eld woodrush and sweet vernal grass. Sunny south facing banks provide perfect habitat for butterfl ies, bees and grasshoppers while shrews, hedgehogs, slow worms and common lizards have found a home with their own rich food sources to hand.


wooded areas is particularly rich for invertebrates and an important habitat for foraging bats.


“Beech Hurst is a surprisingly quiet place considering its proximity to the town centre.”


The interconnectedness between


Beech Hurst supports a robust wild ecosystem among the human activity; unmown areas are reminiscent of semi-natural grassland, home to ox-eye daisies, red fescue, yarrow, self heal and ribwort plantain. The descriptive


fl owers and insects and between small mammals and predators can be seen in action among the herb rich grasses. Cuckoo fl ower, birds foot trefoil and common sorrel are important larval food plants for butterfl ies such as the delicate Common Blue, the striking Orange Tip and the Small Copper. Small mammals such as fi eld voles, invertebrates and reptiles use the cover provided by tall tussocky grass and, in turn, act as prey for kestrels and foxes. The zone between grass and


Mature trees scatter the Gardens, including some large oaks near the play area, invaluable for nesting birds and bats, while berries, seeds, nuts and pollen all help to provide for the diets of myriad species. What better way for children to learn how they can coexist with local wildlife than to watch it feeding and fl ying around them as they play? Even the more formal areas of Beech Hurst attract insect life and, on a sunny day, the warm brick walls act as welcome features for reptiles and invertebrates. Beech Hurst is a surprisingly quiet place considering its proximity to the town centre, due in part to the naturalised tree screens along the borders that soften traffi c noise and hide surrounding houses from view. Several tree groups form focal points around the gardens. A row of eight hornbeams line the path leading to the bowling green, Scarlet Oaks and a Pine add seasonal colour and three Handkerchief Trees were planted to provide shade for petanque players, giving a unique spring display of bright white bracts. In 1993, a ring of 12 commemorative trees were


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