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Saxon Hill School, Lichfield: Wildlife Area and Sensory Garden

Supported by UK Diggers

 


One of the major projects that BCV is currently undertaking is helping Saxon Hill Special School to create a new Sensory Garden and Wildlife Area.  Some of the features that the School eventually hopes to include in the garden are:  Outdoor “classroom”  Wheelchair trailFlower banksSensory pathGiant sundialWater stepsWheelchair fordWildlife pondWildlife shrubbery.

 

Burton Conservation Volunteers’ 2006 ChallengeSource to Sea along the River Wye (on foot and by canoe) – has been one of the main fund-raising events for this venture.

 

This page will be updated, and more pictures added, as the project progresses.  Watch this space!

 

 

Sunday 30th November 2008  A bitterly cold day, but at least it stayed dry the whole day so we were able to finish the polytunnel (easier said than done, as the instructions weren’t the easiest to follow!).  Once the polythene was in place, we fitted the doors to the frame.  We also finished fitting the wooden gate and screen at the top of the boardwalk leading up to the pond.  The green steel screen has a pattern of circular holes, so although it’s sufficiently heavy duty it still gives people a view through to the pond.  The screen can then be decorated later by inserting shapes and designs as the pupils and teachers see fit.  Meanwhile, in the warmth of the school workshop, John led a team constructing a wheelchair-friendly table to go in the polytunnel.

 

 

 

Sunday 9th November 2008  It was a blustery day, but with the help of a few bodies and a step-ladder and bench strategically placed, we managed to get the dovecote into position.  We used a collection of old tyres sunk into the ground to form a path edging.  Unfortunately the wet weather intervened before we had a chance to finish the poly tunnel.  Mary provided a nice welcome lunch of cauliflower cheese soup and mince pies.  And we spotted this young hedgehog in the school grounds.

 

Sunday 5th October 2008  We put up a poly tunnel, and also the base of the dovecote. And we painted the dipping platform with non-slip paint, and weeded around the trees.

 

Sunday 31st August 2008  Only five volunteers today, but a good day’s work. We put in the finishing touches to the boardwalk edges (picture, right), linking it to the main Ecogrid pathway, and also constructed the wooden gate frame (not shown).

 

 

Sunday 13th July 2008  We fitted the boardwalk and pond-dipping platform, and also the framework which will house the ornamental gate leading to the pond. A good day’s work, with lots to show for our efforts. The boardwalk now just needs a bit of tidying up around the edges.

 

 

Saturday 14th June 2008  A bit of clearance work around the trees in the woodland area, and preparing the walkway leading up to the pond, ready to install the pond-dipping platform and boardwalk on our next visit in July.  It was also the school’s summer fete which provided an opportunity for visitors to see the work we have done.

 

Sunday 16th December 2007:  Deck the Halls – Christmas Fun & Festivities.  A constant supply of edible goodies thanks to Mary and Sarah: sausage and bacon rolls for breakfast; then for lunch Mary's festive soup with various breads, plus Sarah's sausage rolls, mince pies with brandy cream and mulled wine.  Oh – and we did a bit of work as well… We installed some more EcoGrid and paving to provide access and hard standing for the new shed, and we also did some clearance work on the woodland area and willow tunnel, and modified the profile of the pond, using some of the newly dug-up turf to line the banks.

Saturday 10th November 2007  With the help of the Round Table, we completed the groundwork for the cascade and the paths. We also did some weeding around the woodland area and cleared the banks in preparation for a bulb-planting day by the pupils.

Sunday 29th April 2007

 

We installed the pond lining, started filling the pond with water (a lengthy process!), and erected some protective fencing.  There will eventually be a decking area on one side overlooking the pond, which the pupils will access via a wheelchair ramp through the willow tunnel.

 

On the main downhill water feature, we cleared the cascade steps ready for the concrete base to be installed.  The idea is to have some large stones arranged differently on each of the cascade levels which should provide a variety of miniature water features.

 

We also laid the base for the underground reservoir – recycled bricks and sand – ready for the inner liner to be installed.

 

Many thanks to Mary and Sarah for the excellent catering.

Monday 23rd April 2007

 

The Mayor of Lichfield, Colin Greatorex, unveiled a plaque to launch the Wall of Memories, which faces on to the new woodland area.  Each pupil will have a special plaque attached to the wall when they leave the school, to commemorate their time at Saxon Hill.

Saturday 17th March 2007

We had another successful day working with the Lichfield Round Table to build and install the wooden box surround for the underground reservoir which will supply the water feature.  This firstly involved emptying out large quantities of water from the clay-lined reservoir pit, which had accumulated naturally since we dug the pit on our last visit. The metal grid was also placed in position on to the wooden frame.

 

Unfortunately the large clay pipe section which we had intended to use for part of the water feature got damaged in transit.

 

We finished pegging down the grass reinforcement mesh, and also seeded and top-dressed the Ecogrid path around the tree area.  Finally we created a temporary fence to protect the new trees, using the surplus mesh material and a few posts.

 

Saturday 10th February 2007

BCV members arranged a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology, near Machynlleth in mid Wales, to get some ideas for some interactive features that we could include in the sensory garden.  The musical pipes (left), wooden xylophone, and the coloured glass tunnel (right) particularly stood out as being popular exhibits which could be adapted for inclusion in the garden.  Many thanks to the school for the use of the minibus, and Shane for driving in some quite challenging snowy conditions on the journey there.

 

Saturday 27th January 2007:  Lots achieved – a team of professionals from the Lichfield Round Table came along with some heavy machinery to donate their services.  They finished off the dismantling of the old brick fort, which we started last year; and they also completed just about all of the path network, using the old bricks as a base layer, as well as installing the power cable for the water feature.  We had a few BCV volunteers there during the day to lend a hand.  We dug the pit for the water reservoir, and laid down an area of plastic mesh material to reinforce a section of grass which will be used as the music area. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to move the large pipe section into place at the bottom of the water feature, but we did get some of the trees staked.  The rows of willow planted a few weeks ago are looking really healthy.  The Round Table catering team did us proud, with a constant supply of bacon and sausage cobs, and chilli con carne for lunch.

 

Saturday 16th December 2006: We planted out the remaining few trees, and filled in the last section of the Ecogrid path with sand. This part of the path will eventually link up with the planned water feature and wheelchair ford.  We also planted a new willow hedge on either side of the approach leading up to the pond, where the clay pipe currently lies; the plan is to relocate the pipe to use as part of the waterfall.

 

Friday 24th November 2006: The trees were planted by the pupils throughout the day, with a bit of assistance from some of the BCV members who were present. Lawrence did a presentation at the school assembly.

 

Saturday 18th November 2006: We constructed the main paths that will provide access around the garden, using the revolutionary Ecogrid lattice system for the base – it's basically interlocking squares of recycled plastic material, quite clever once you've worked out which way up it goes! After filling it in with sand, it provides a solid base for wheelchairs to run over, whilst retaining a natural look once the grass starts to grow back through the lattice.  With the help of teachers, parents and friends of the school, we laid over 80 metres of path in total – an excellent day's work.  On Friday 24th November the school has a tree-planting session, which all of the pupils will be involved in – so the new paths should be well used during the day.  We used some of the resulting turf cuttings to build up the banks around the new pond structure, and made use of some of the old bricks and turf to create some amphibian habitat piles near the pond.

 

 

Saturday 8th April & Sunday 9th April 2006: After months of planning, the work on the new Wildlife Area and Sensory Garden got underway.  We used a hired turf-cutter to mark out the paths, and rolled up the turf for use later on the new raised banks.  We dug out the paths, again saving the soil to build up the banks.  We also demolished the old brick storage shed - the base of it will be used to create a raised flower bed – and started work on the pond.  We are grateful for the support of UK Diggers of Derby, who kindly loaned us a digger for the weekend.

 

 

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Page last updated 02/03/08