Progress on the Nature Garden

Over the weekend of 25-26th September we started the landscaping work on the nature garden site. The grass was removed to leave earth for the woodland shrubs, perennials, and native ground cover. The massive concrete foundations from the old playground equipment were dug up and removed from site. Smaller hardcore has been retained to form the base for the seating area and some paths. Some of the rubber matting from the slide area was also re-purposed as path base.

There are two sets of trenches where hedges will be planted. One hedge is between the meadow (bus stop) end and the seating area, and the other is the new boundary behind the village hall. NB there will be a gate in the hedge there too, even though the trench is continuous for now. The big pile of wood chippings next to the nature garden site will be used as toppings for the paths through the woodland area

So, what is the plan?

The Upton Nature Garden project aims to create a haven for wildlife and people that is a focal point for community activities involving biodiversity and the environment. Walk through the woodland glades; spot insects, fungi, flowers, birds and the tracks of small animals. Sit and relax whilst youngsters try out the log trail and babies enjoy the flickering sunlight through the leaves and branches. Enjoy the wildflower meadow spectacle in summer.

Inside the nature garden site, we already have

Mature copper beech, horse chestnut and field maple

Well shaded bank with hazel, willow and hedgerow beech

An area that has been dog excrement free for many years

Oxfordshire Conservation Charity recommended we plant blossom and berry bearing bushes, shrubs, and wildflowers; that we renovate the hedge along the roadside; and that we include boundary hedges that have edible fruit for birds (and people) to eat.

The final garden design has three areas that wrap around the village hall.

(1) In the Forest Sub-Canopy there are native shrubs and woodland bulbs around the perimeter, and perennials and ground cover over a mound in the centre. The winding paths and log trail loop around the trees, and log piles and dead hedges return nutrients and encourage fungi, bugs, and insects.

(2) The Open Glade, where the slide used to be, is bounded by new native hedge for seclusion. Part of the existing concrete base has been re-used for the seating area, which is surrounded by flowers and berry bearing shrubs. There will be shallow rooted plants near the hall and two clusters of fruit trees between the seats and the road.

(3) In the sunniest part of the garden nearest the bus stop, in the Meadow, there are wide mown paths for pushchair and wheelchair access, and a wide variety of meadow flowers to support pollinators like queen bumblebees who need that early nectar for the energy to find a nest site.

The garden will develop over the next few years and increase in interest as the plants grow and the wildlife moves in. There are information posters about the planned work schedule and design pinned to the boundary fences. More information and pictures on nature-garden.co.uk