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Wildlife garden takes root in Henfield

A new wildlife garden is being developed at Woods Mill nature reserve, Henfield, inspiring visitors to create gardens for wildlife.

From Press releases - 12 April 2016 12:00 AM

A new wildlife garden is being developed at Woods Mill nature reserve, Henfield, inspiring visitors to create gardens for wildlife.

Local electricity distributor, UK Power Networks, provided a £10,000 award to create the outdoor classroom and their employees are helping Sussex Wildlife Trust construct the garden from scratch.

The first nine volunteers from the energy company’s offices in Crawley started the groundworks yesterday (April 11). They removed a raised bed made from railway sleepers to make way for an eco-hut, which will be the educational centerpiece of the garden. The team moved plants from the raised bed to new areas, edged a footpath, cut back vegetation and turned over soil to create new bedding areas for planting.

A second team from the company will be helping with the next stage of the work on April 25.

Katie Parker, Sussex Wildlife Trust People and Wildlife Officer, said: “We have exciting plans to turn this part of the nature reserve into a living classroom where people can discover simple ways to support wildlife in their own gardens. We hope it will give people ideas about how to live sustainably and invite wildlife into their garden.

“UK Power Networks helped us to fund this garden and their employees are helping us to build it. The team worked hard and made a big impact on their first day so we hope they will return to follow our progress.”

Once the groundworks are complete the new timber eco-hut will be installed. It will have a living roof planted with drought resistant plants to attract invertebrates. Drainpipes will connect the roof to water butts to show rainwater harvesting in action. A solar panel on the roof will power a variety of lightbulbs inside the hut, from old energy-hungry varieties to standard energy efficient ones and ultra-efficient LED lightbulbs.

One side of the hut will be kept warm using a variety of different materials such as sheep wool and recycled paper, with transparent peep holes to see different types of cavity wall insulation. The other side of the hut won’t have any insulation, allowing visitors to compare temperatures on either side of the hut.

An information board will explain what is in the garden and simple ways to recreate it at home. For example, there will be a mini-meadow with wild flowers for bees, butterflies and hoverflies, log piles for mini-beasts, a hedge for birds and insects and a pond for amphibians. There will also be a mini vegetable plot to encourage people to reduce food miles by growing their own and recycled plastic edges for the paths.

Volunteer Dave Tibbals, a craftsman at UK Power Networks, said: “Our team really enjoyed working on the new garden. It was hard, muddy work and great fun. Most of our team work in offices so they loved being outdoors doing something different from their jobs and helping wildlife.

“Sussex Wildlife Trust is the leading nature conservation organisation in Sussex and plays a special role in enhancing our communities. We glimpsed a pied flycatcher while we were working, apparently rarely seen in Sussex, which shows what a fantastic habitat the reserve provides for wildlife. We hope the garden will enhance this special setting and inspire people to welcome wildlife into their own gardens.”

UK Power Networks has a partnership with the nine Wildlife Trusts across its operating areas in London, the South East and East Anglia. All staff have two days paid leave each year to volunteer or fundraise in their community. Last year they spent nearly 5,000 volunteering hours working with local charities and conservation groups, making 2015 the firm’s biggest year of volunteering.