Within Hastings there are a mixture of neutral and acid grasslands growing on the underlying sands and clays. The neutral unfertilised grasslands to the west and north of the Borough are rich in wildflowers and are spectacular in mid summer when they are carpeted in orchids. The sandier free draining soils in the east of the Borough are much more acidic and acid grassland develops. Acid grassland has less species of wild flowers growing in it but contains more specialised species and it is on these soils that dwarf scrub communities consisting of heather, bell heather and dwarf gorse develop. Where grasslands have been fertilised or ‘improved’ on either acidic or neutral soils very species poor grasslands develop that are dominated by coarse fast growing grasses, thistles, docks and nettles.
The best examples of unimproved species rich neutral grassland can be found within Marline Valley Local Nature Reserve, St Helens Park Local Nature Reserve and at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve on the cliff-top at Ecclesbourne Glen. Acid grassland and heath can be found at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve within Warren Glen and the Firehills.