Plants on the Edge

Teesdale Special Flora Trust’s Plants on the Edge project, funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, works closely with Natural England, Northern Heartlands and North Pennines AONB to address the steady decline of the Teesdale flora through:
• Surveying the populations and distribution of the rare species
• Trialling practical management actions for species recovery
• Engaging volunteers, visitors and young people with training, walks, talks, creative arts and exhibitions
Plants on the Edge is an ongoing project with engagement updates below. Want to know more? Contact

What’s on?

Activites are Pay What You Feel and support the work of Teesale Special Flora Trust. Payments can be made through our Just Giving page. All donations are  appreciated.

Any questions? Contact

Garden Lady’s-mantle on the rampage in Upper Teesdale

Students at Teesdale School and 1st Middleton in Teesdale Scouts are so concerned about the threat of Garden Lady’s-mantle, Alchemilla mollis, on the rare native flora of Upper Teesdale that they have created an animation asking for your help.


Upper Teesdale in County Durham is one of the top 5 Botanical Hotspots in the country. Rare plants grow here, including Spring Gentian that grows nowhere else in the UK, along with groups of plants that are not usually found together. Some of these plants are glacial relics that have been growing in Upper Teesdale since before Britain was an island. The Teesdale plants include rare Alchemilla, Lady’s mantles. But there is a new arrival – the invasive non-native Garden Lady’s-mantle Alchemilla mollis which is a very successful plant in terms of spreading and is posing a threat to the habitats of Upper Teesdale.

Teesdale Special Flora Trust’s Dr Margaret Bradshaw has a Citizen Science project asking for sightings of Garden Lady’s-mantle in the wild so that action can be taken. Having learned about the Alchemilla threat, the young people of Teesdale School and 1st Middleton in Teesdale Scouts got down to work with support from Dot Dot Dot animation to create a Monstrous mollis – the Troublesome Alchemilla.

Link to the Citizen Science project here

Plants on the Edge

An Evaluation

As Plants on the Edge moves towards the final part of the project, it is really important that we are able to learn from what has taken place, and identify the project’s strengths and weaknesses and what it has achieved for the area’s natural heritage, for its people and communities.

Can you help us?

Have you seen this plant?

Alchemilla mollis or Garden Lady’s Mantle, beloved by florists and gardeners alike, has


Alchemilla mollis is an aggressive invader and a threat to the native and rare Lady’s Mantles of Upper Teesdale. Dr Margaret Bradshaw is leading a Citizen Science project to record the location of the invader in Upper Teesdale and the environs.

We need your help!

If you spot Alchemilla mollis  when you are out and about, please record:
• Location
• National Grid Reference (6 figures) or what3words
• Photograph (if possible)

and send to google docs 

If you are not sure if it is A. mollis or another of the Alchemilla family, please record it anyway and we can check it later when we survey.

Thank you

Image: A. mollis, Stainforth, Yorkshire Dales with kind permission of Mark Lyne

Alchemilla Mollis plant with leaves and flowers in flower July 2022

February 2023:

Another great talk hosted by Teesdale Special Flora Trust’s Plants on the Edge project.
Stephanie Miles and Jennifer Peach from the Millennium Seed Bank, at Kew Garden’s Wakehust site, talk was on ‘The Millennium Seed Bank: Providing options for the future’.

Kew’s global seed banking network, the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, is the largest ex situ plant conservation programme in the world. The Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst in West Sussex is also the national facility for storage of seeds from wild plants for the purposes of long-term conservation and use.

Stephanie and Jenny described how and why the Millennium Seed Bank preserves seeds of UK threatened flora, gave case studies of how the Bank’s seeds and genmination expertise have been used to support conservation and research projects, and acknowledged the importance of long term work carried out by groups including Teesdale Special Flora Trust.
The audience asked questions that demonstrated the wealth of experience present in Upper Teesdale and nearby.
Image credit: S Miles (Polygala amarella, Dwarf milkwort plants)
Credit S Miles Polygala amarella seedlings in pots, Kew Gardens

November 2022:

Nicolete Blackett-Ord spoke at The Witham, Barnard Castle on 24th November about the restoration of the High Helbeck estate to in order to increase wildlife. The work was done in collaboration with the North Pennines AONB, The RSPB and The Woodland Trust to improve habitat for multiple species across the varied terrain of the Estate and increase biodiversity.(Photograph: Nicolete Blackett-Ord with Dr Margaret Bradshaw)


Leif Bersweden, author of Where the Wildflowers Grow: My Botanical Journey Through Britain and Ireland, visited in October.

Our resident flora is packed full of remarkable creatures including carnivores and climbers, puppeteers and parasites. In 2021, Leif went on a big botanical adventure to track down our most intriguing and well-known plants with the people who love them. This talk followed Leif on that journey as he botanised his way through an entire calendar year. His talk emphasised the joy of engaging with nature, the importance of plants for our climate, and celebrating our unbelievable botanical diversity.

‘What an inspiring and positive message from Leif despite the presence of doom and gloom.’


Lee Schofield, senior site manager for the RSPB at Haweswater in the Lake District and author of WILD FELL, talked about his new book which is all about restoring a mosaic of upland habitats and the importance of diverse plant life as the foundation for healthy, functioning ecosystems.

Thank you too to mcnabsbooks who brought along books to buy.

‘Absolutely fascinating talk, inspiring and informative.’ 

‘Great talk. Accessible price too! Thank you.’


A talk by Teesdale Special Flora’s Dr Margaret Bradshaw and botanist John O’Reilly which looked at the impact of climate change on the rare plants of Teesdale. The talk was linked to ‘TEESDALE’S TINY GIANTS’ a month-long exhibition at The Witham Gallery highlighting Teesdale Special Flora Trust’s work to address the decline of the Teesdale Flora and featuring work by the young people of Teesdale working with local artists.
For information about any of these talks, please contact

Are you visiting Upper Teesdale?

Information about the area’s unique flora, their fragility, and the work of the Upper Teesdale Botany Group alongside the Plants on the Edge project for Teesdale Special Flora Trust is now hosted on the video loop played at Bowlees, the Visitor Centre of the North Pennines AONB Partnership.
The information will serve to highlight the flora and signpost visitors to the work that is being done to protect them.

Teesdale’s Tiny Giants… Plants on the Edge Exhibition

August saw Plants on the Edge take over The Gallery at The Witham, Barnard Castle, with an exhibition highlighting Teesdale Special Flora Trust’s work to address the decline of the Teesdale Assemblage and featuring artwork created by the young people of Teesdale working alongside local artists, Sara Cox and Alex Jacob-Whitworth.

The exhibition was opened by Dr Margaret Bradshaw with an audience which included young people from Middleton in Teesdale Primary School, Teesdale School, Barnard Castle School and 1st Middleton in Teesdale Scouts, Cubs and Beavers who took part in the project. Many thanks to those organisations as well thanks to the Upper Teesdale Botany Group volunteers who introduced the children to the special flora up at Cow Green Reservoir.

Teesdale’s Tiny Giants

Students from Middleton-in Teesdale Primary School, Teesdale School and Barnard Castle School, and members of 1st Middleton in Teesdale Scout Group got up close to the flora at Cow Green during the summer as they studied the size, shape and importance of the rare flora in Upper Teesdale with the help of artists Sara Cox and Alex Jacob-Whitworth, and botanists from Teesdale Special Flora Trust’s Plants on the Edge Project. Meeting every kind of weather that Upper Teesdale could throw at them, the children were amazed at the colour and resilience of delicate looking plants.

Their next challenge back at school and Scouts was for the young people to use their sketches and ideas to create artwork of the plants, including Spring Gentian models in knitted wire and tissue paper, ready for the Summer Exhibition for Plants on the Edge.

Teesdale School Scientists

Science Club and Nature Club members from Teesdale School have been solving the puzzle of why Upper Teesdale is such a special place for rare flora with the help of Teesdale Special Flora’s Plants on the Edge Project.

Eleni Mann, Durham University Earth Science student, led the first workshop with support from her supervisor, Dr Stuart Jones. Teesdale School students examined the properties of local rocks, un-muddled the layers of geology found under Cow Green and unpicked the puzzle of the strange rock order. The students were magnificent in their questions and ideas.

Teesdale students’ next challenge was to explore why many of the flowers, which grow nowhere else in the world, have been found to be under threat. For these sessions, the students worked with renowned local botanist Dr Margaret Bradshaw and Lynne Sharp, of Teesdale School who also helped to coordinate the workshops.