Helen Morris of Canon Barnet Primary School writes:
Following the receipt of an £850 Tower Habitats biodiversity grant from Tower Hill Trust in March this year, the environment and habitats for a wide selection of insects and birds has improved hugely at Canon Barnett.
Two bird boxes, installed with internal lights and cameras will enable the pupils to observe birds nesting on the school roof garden. The cameras can be linked to the school wi-fi so that live footage of birds nesting, hatching and rearing chicks can be observed. Now we just have to encourage birds to find our school roof a great place to make a family!
With this in mind we have installed two special “Urban bird feeders”, designed to be easily filled with seeds by children, and which are weather proof, squirrel and vermin proof. With the purchase of the bird boxes we also received two “free” acrylic window feeders which will allow children to observe birds feeding through the school windows. Additionally, bird seed has been purchased to keep them all topped up through the winter.
In the summer term a small team of parents worked with teacher, Helen Morris, to renovate and rejuvenate the raised planters in the playground. A variety of plants to encourage butterflies and bees were purchased and planted (Rudbeckia, Verbena bonariensis, Mahonia, Lavatera, Eryngium, ivy), alongside some simple bedding plants (Lobelia and Petunia). The children were delighted to see the flowers flourish and smell the blooms (see header photo), and happily watered and weeded under supervision.
Unfortunately we lost some of the plants that were not sufficiently established during the hot days of the summer holidays. We have now decided that an irrigation system will be essential to the prosperity our garden areas during school holidays when there is not the capacity to water by hand.
An RHS competition to build an insect hotel this summer inspired a group of children to design and create their own bug residence. The research they did highlighted the need for different types of shelter required for a variety of insects to call our school environment “home”, so with this in mind small ready-made hotels were purchased that have been mounted around the roof garden and in the Early Years area.
This summer the children were able to see a variety of bees, butterflies, ladybirds and bugs in the garden, especially popular on the runner beans and nasturtiums. This led to interesting discussions surrounding whether these creatures were residing in our “hotels” and their importance in pollinating flowers to produce fruits and vegetables.
The money that has not been spent yet will be used to purchase plants in early spring 2020 so that they have the full summer to establish and bloom. We are very grateful for the opportunity to have been able to diversify our environment and be so well supported by the Tower Hill Trust.
All photos by Canon Barnett School – click to enlarge