We‘ve started to build our NaturEscape home for the bugs and the bees, the birds and the butterflies, and you. On Friday 5 and Saturday 6 March our wonderful volunteers helped us to plant 55 metres of hedge and lay 250 sq metres of a very special turf!
We all got very muddy and quite tired, but what an achievement, transforming mounds of wet earth and mud-filled trenches into our new landscape (check out the time lapse video at the bottom of this page - to watch the transformation taking place!). At the moment it looks like a flat field with some small plants, but over the coming months and years this will form important habitats and pollen sources for many small creatures and insects, as well as sheltered spaces for people to enjoy the natural world around them.
Our hedges are a modified version of the traditional ‘mixed species’ native hedge – we have 75% Hawthorne and 5% each of Field Maple, Hazel, Dogwood, Holly, and Wild rose.
The hedges will grow and thicken over the next three of four years to become both home and larder for hundreds of creatures – birds (wrens, sparrows, blackbirds, dunnock, thrush) and small mammals (wood mice, bats, and if we’re very lucky, hedgehogs) will find lodgings. Some of their food will also find shelter here too – many small grubs and invertebrates, spiders, snails and worms will happily live in the shelter of a hedge. The hedge itself will become a source of nourishment – pollen for bees and butterflies, berries for birds, leaf litter for worms, tender shoots for caterpillars. Hedges are also great for helping creatures to move around safely, creating wildlife corridors within our park.
Our special turf was developed by the Wildflower Turf Company, and is a mix of tough grasses (Common meadow grass, Chewing’s fescue, Sheep’s fescue, Dwarf cultivar, Smaller cat’s tail) and up to thirty species of low-growing flowers, the most common of which are Betony, Common knapweed, Lady’s bedstraw, Bird’s foot trefoil, Common sorrel, Black medick and Daisy. This turf won’t need cutting so often as conventional grass, saving manpower and energy, and the flowers will provide pollen and seed over a long period of time during the year.
While our species rich turf spends the next 6 weeks free of human footraffic (only insects, only birds, and small mammals allowed) we are busy bees organising the next stage; a sensory path, trees and the sponsored painted stones that will decorate the path edges.... If you would be interested in 'sponsoring a stone' to help us raise funds for our beautiful sensory path - visit our eventbrite page here: https://sponsorastonefornaturescape.eventbrite.co.uk
We are very excited that from early summer, groups such as Flo's Nature Nursery will begin to start using the Naturescape for Forest School type activities. It was also be bookable by other groups too - so watch this space!
Site Transformation Underway
Many thanks to all our wonderful and hard-working volunteers, workshop leaders and supporters:
Trevor Bendall from Meadow Creations - https://meadowcreations.co.uk
Kate Jury, Oxford Garden Partners - http://www.oxfordgardenpartners.com
Laura Burt, Gardens and Photography, https://www.lauraburtgardensandphotography.co.uk
The Nature Effect CIC - http://www.thenatureeffect.co.uk
Dan Thorpe, Horticulturalist
The project has been funded and supported by: Oxford City Council, Trust for the Oxfordshire Environment, and The Nature Effect CIC: