DesignSchool Wildlife Garden Transformation

July 15, 2020

School Garden Design Transformation

Two years ago, I volunteered to help transform an overgrown area of Richard Taylor School field into a wildlife garden that could be used by all the children and would provide an area where they could have weekly lessons. Little did I know when I put pen to paper how much the design and transformation of this land would benefit us all as parents, the children, and the teachers.

The Garden Design Brief

The original brief was to create an area with three raised beds where the children can grow vegetables along with including an area for wildflower planting and a large seating area for classes and groups. The final stipulation was to create a forest school area for activities such as camp craft etc…

Before the transformation:

There are multiple mature trees on the site which have been maintained to keep the woodland, wildlife feel. One of my favourite features in the finished garden are the original trees coming out of the large sustainable decking area where the children have lessons. The trees create a lovely woodland, secluded area and help the children to benefit from the feeling of being surrounded by nature.
The garden now has many different areas for the children to explore and learn. The fairy garden entices the children as they enter where they can enjoy floating fairies down the river on leaves. The crafting area includes a willow den, log seating area, and benches where the children can sit and enjoy the amazing view across the South end of Nidderdale – an area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are raised planting beds to encourage the children to learn and grow vegetables. We have retained a boggy/pond area in the centre of the garden where great crested newts can be found, this is the area surrounded by the graduated wood feature. At the bottom of the garden is a lush area of wildlife planting including Geraniums, Penstemons, Verbena, Teasels, Muscari, Cornus Sanguinea, Ferns, and Elder to attract bees and butterflies.
Next to the wildlife area is a large composite decked area where the children can sit and have lessons. The decking is made from recycled, sustainable decking which will be there for many years to come.

Bespoke designed birdbath

The beautiful, minster stone-carved birdbath sits centrally to the wildlife planting area.
The fence at the bottom of the garden is made from recycled, scaffolding boards to retain the natural feel and echoes the eco-friendly, recycled theme throughout the garden. The school has painted on the values of the school, the children are encouraged to display these values during their time at Richard Taylor.

Connecting with nature is a must

I’m a strong believer in the benefits of connecting with nature and have a real passion for passing these huge positive benefits onto the next generation. That’s why this garden has meant so much more than just being a Garden Design project. It will benefit children, parents, and teachers for many years to come.

We are also creating a community gardening group to help maintain the garden, a brilliant way to bring the community together.

Biophilic Design

Biophilia is a strong theme that runs through all my designs. Not many people know what Biophilia means, it’s a fairly new scientific concept relating to nature and the benefits to humans. The concept of biophilia implies that all humans hold a biological need for connection with nature on physical, mental, and social levels and that this connection affects our personal well-being, productivity, and societal relationships.

Exposure to nature has been found to positively impact the stress levels of society’s youngest members.

In a recent biophilia study, it was found that access to nature and outdoor education spaces: increases rates of learning by 20-25%, improve test results, concentration levels,  attendance and significantly reduces the impacts of ADHD.

A big thank you

The Richard Taylor School Wildlife Garden has been an immense pleasure to work on, it has created a community amongst parents and teachers. I’m delighted to see the children enjoying the space and look forward to their big return in September when they can enjoy the space to its full potential.

Thank you, Richard Taylor School for choosing Harrogate Garden Design to complete this project.

Here is the garden after:

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