From understanding comes strength



Wednesday 14th September 2016

The outdoor group is creating a wildlife garden as part of their enterprise experience this year. The garden is a sad and unloved piece of ground outside the Community Education offices.

After looking at the area and having a discussion, pupils worked in pairs to research ideas for creating a colourful and attractive place for insects and birds to visit. We had a number of things to consider:

The time we have to work on the garden.

The purpose of the area – what do we want it to be?

Areas of sun/shade and which plants can grow in each?

How much money we have to spend?

Pupils worked in small groups to create an ibook using the Book Creator app on the Ipads. These were shared and ideas discussed.

Pupils then set to work clearing the garden space. We had a lot of weeding and tidying up to do but everyone worked hard and got the job done.

Pupils made fliers for Banchory Academy staff appealing for donations of materials which can be used to make a bug hotel and recycled planters for the garden.

Our next project will be to approach local businesses to donate items we need.

Wednesday 11th January 2017

Our aim today for the garden area was to source materials from local businesses to create bird feeders and planters. We had to have an enterprising attitude and be able to talk about our plans for the wild garden at school. We visited Raemoir Garden Centre and purchased all the items we needed to create hanging insect hotels. We also asked them to donate some plant pots which they kindly did. A ceramic bird bath was also bought.

We visited Build Base in Banchory and again spoke about our garden plans. They were able to give us 11 paving slabs. Lastly we went to Corsee wood and collected bags of natural materials which were needed for our insect hotels.

After discussion about where it should go, a path was created in our garden area using the paving slabs. This was a fantastic addition that we did not think we would have so everyone was very pleased. Pupils worked in pairs to make hanging insect hotels. These were created using hanging baskets, wire, old plant pots and a variety of natural materials such as moss, leaves, pine cones and sticks. They will look fantastic once they are hung on the wall.

Our next task was the bird feeding station. We made use of an old wooden planter which we turned on its end. The bird bath was placed on top and then we worked in small groups to create the 3 bird feeders. We even had a bit of help from the technical department who showed us how to secure them onto the wooden planter. Hopefully, once the garden is finished we will attract many birds with these.

The group will make some items next week in the woods which will provide colourful additions to the garden area. We also have a further garden day which will be all about planting and this will transform the garden and make it come alive with insects and birds…..we hope!

Wednesday 18th January 2017

Our tasks in the wood today were all about creating items to place in our garden enterprise area at school. We had our usual routine of setting up the camp and getting the central fire plus the Kelly kettles lit. This was an extremely hard job today as we have had so much rain. All the small sticks we collected were quite wet. After the Kelly kettles went out numerous times, and with a great deal of perseverance, we succeeded and enjoyed a hot drink round the fire.

It was decided that we needed to provide some colour and something eye catching to our garden. The area is fairly shaded and not yet planted so to add instant interest we decided on making: CD wind spinners and painted stones.

Each pupil made 3 or 4 painted stones, which we will place in various locations within our garden. We found the fabric pens worked better than paint and also dried more quickly.

Stacey led the instructions for making the CD spinners as she had tried it out at home and knew what got the best results. To be as eye catching as possible we covered the whole CD in tin foil and decorated with shiny beads and jewels. We think this will reflect any sunlight really well.

Finally we put our knife skills to good use again. Using a bag of thick pieces of Willow we have had lying around for a while we tapered one end to a point so it can be stuck into the ground in our garden. This took a long time since the sticks were so thick, but again by showing perseverance and remembering how to correctly and effectively use our knives we got the job done. We thought they would look good placed together at various heights and create a good edging for one of our planted areas.

Wednesday 25th January

Our group travelled to the Leys estate near Crathes and met up with Thys Simpson the countryside ranger.

Thys spoke about the red squirrel population and how they had to be protected from the larger grey squirrels.

We then worked in pairs to start building our own squirrel boxes. The skills involved were reading plans measuring, sawing wood, building the box and using a hammer and nails to fit it together. The most difficult part of the process was fitting the wire grid to the front of the box.

The boxes are now made and we are going to put them up in different areas of the wood where we have our outdoor learning class. Some have been taken home for our own back gardens and hopefully we will be able to see first-hand the red squirrels close up.

Wednesday 26th April

We had an extremely busy day preparing our wild garden for our upcoming garden opening party. The day started with a visit to B&Q to buy a variety of equipment and plants. Pupils worked in small groups and were given a number of items to find, price and select for the best deal.

We then set to work to plant the 50 plants we have bought for the garden. This was a hard task because of the liner that was underneath the earth. Each plant needed an area to be cleared, liner cut away, fresh rich compost mixed in to the ground and then the plant could be planted. It was all hands on deck! Another group cut the long lengths of pipe into four pieces to fill the area that will become our bug hotel. We also prepared the wellies ready to plant with green cable ties so they can be secured to the fence once planted. We have made sure we have a variety of native Scottish plants that will attract insects and birds to our garden and will be in keeping with the wild look we are trying to create.