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Wildlife garden makeover for children

A neglected cottage garden at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve was spruced up by volunteers from power company UK Power Networks working on plans for a child-friendly wildlife haven.

From Press releases - 13 August 2014 12:00 AM

A neglected cottage garden at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve was spruced up by volunteers from power company UK Power Networks working on plans for a child-friendly wildlife haven.

Seven volunteers spent a day working with Kent Wildlife Trust on grand designs for a new wildlife garden where children can learn about the natural world at the reserve.

When it opens to visitors next year, the finished garden will have a pond fed by rainwater with plants and aquatic animals, log piles, a “mini-beast hotel” and compost bins for invertebrates.

Some of the grassed areas will be left to grow so wild flowers and insects can be studied using sweep nets. A play area will give children a break from their studies while a quiet area will provide a place for telling stories like the Hungry Caterpillar.

The staff gave their time as part of a scheme which encourages all UK Power Networks employees to spend two days each year volunteering in the community. Liz Nicolaou, organiser of the challenge at UK Power Networks, said: “The cottage garden is being turned into a wildlife garden for all children visiting the reserve but it needs a lot of work.

“We did some weeding, dug out unwanted trees, cut back areas to support designs for a new visitor pathway, planted pots and tidied up the garden. It was hot, hard work but we saw a big difference. We hope we will return to do some further work and they’ve invited us to the opening of the garden next year.”

The seven volunteers normally work on maintenance contracts for street lighting connections in London, the South East and East of England based at offices in St Neots, Crawley and Potters Bar. They were at the reserve on July 29.

Mary Blackwell, a community education team leader and the instigator of the project, said: “The idea is to turn what is an unloved area into a wildlife garden for young children to explore the natural world in an exciting and safe environment. There is a lot of hard work needed to get there. Volunteer groups like UK Power Networks have made an excellent start but there is still much to do and we welcome further groups of helpers with the challenge.”

UK Power Networks is a supporter of the nine wildlife trusts in the areas where it delivers electricity across the South East, London and East of England.