From Victorian times the land was used as an orchard and market garden, and was part of the Hermitage House.In the 1980's the orchard became overgrown and the land was sold off for development. The house remained separate. Following a lengthy campaign by local residents and Gosport Borough Council the land was saved from development and in 1995 it became a protected Open Space owned by the Council.

The garden provides a sanctuary for local people.... a place of peace and quiet which enables people to relive memories of the countryside and their childhood.

The development of the wildlife garden centres around four main principles.

1. The growth of some native plant species. Plants provide the start of the food chain which supports animal life. Our native animals are adapted to eating our native plants. The Oak Tree supports 284 insect species and the Hawthorn 150.....

2. Allowing for decay. Hedgehogs and Wood Mice benefit from piles of old leaves left in odd corners and under hedgerows. Some creatures choose to hibernate in hollow stems of dead flowers. More creatures eat dead or rotting materials than living so it is important to allow things to decay.

In November 1995, a group of local volunteers 'The Friends of the Hermitage' started clearing the site with the help of the Countryside Section of Gosport Council and the H.M.S. Sultan community service groups. Since then a series of habitats have been created to attract wildlife to the area. A pathway has been constructed around the site.

Grants have been obtained from the Hampshire Community Action Fund, Gosport Borough Council, British Telecom and the Shell Better Britain Campaign. Many individuals have made donations and the 'Friends' hold fund raising events.

3. Providing lots of breeding sites. Wood piles provide homes for Wood Boring Beetles and Wood Wasps as well as encouraging various fungi to colonise. Stag Beetles rely on decaying wood as the larvae feed on the wood at, or just below ground level for about four years. They then pupate and emerge the following May or June as adults. Our largest beetle is about 7cms. Nest boxes provide the increased opportunity for Blue Tits, Great Tits, Sparrows and Robins to breed. The dense bramble undergrowth is also a great attraction for many other birds including Dunnock and Blackbird.

4. Creating a variety of habitats. A woodland edge of mature oaks already exists and this has been supplemented by underplanting with species such as Bluebells, Primroses, Foxgloves, Wild Garlic and Cuckoo Pint. The meadow provides an all the year round food supply with colourful flowers such as Marigolds, Ox-eye Daisies, and Knapweed. The pond and bog garden increases the opportunity for wildlife, water being essential for all life. A great variety of plants and animals exist in this small oasis. The hedgerow will provide berries for birds, leaves for Caterpillars and other insects, as well as protection for nesting birds such as the Song Thrush and Blackbird.

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