Parliament Hill School has vast grounds and is uniquely situated adjacent to Hampstead Heath where a hedgehog population is on the lookout to extend their habitat. The front of the school is next to a busy road, and we started planting mini forests and hedges in March '22 to protect from noise and air pollution. Many more, very ambitious projects under the banner of 'Biodiversity & Beauty' have been realised in 2022 &'23 and we are very excited to see the trees, hedges and flowers grow and will monitor how they are doing and what wildlife they attract. The pond got some life creatures added, burst into life and has been the main attracting for the students.
Growing Green has been awared £500 for a butterfly and a cut flower garden from the Veolia Sustainability Fund.The inspiration for the butterfly garden came from the RHS wildlife garden at the Hampton Court Garden Show - betony and anthemis plants covered in skipper butterflies. We will add some grasses that the caterpillars love too.
The cut flower garden will bring the students and staff as much joy as it has brought us on the allotment.
In spring '22, we planted about 800 tree whips along the front fence as shield from a busy road. (Cost: circa £1300). We identified a second area, next to the Heath, that was planted early February '23 with about 250 trees (14 different native small tree and shrub species). Cost for new forest: £300
Our new mini forest will be the home to about 200 suitable spring flowers: English bluebells, woodland anemone and wild primrose. We hope they will spread and provide early nectar and spring cheer. Cost: £70
Going wild isn't always suitable and we have one area where hornbeam and another area where several native species will form a clipped hedge that is still beneficial for bird and other wildlife. Cost: donated by the Hitchin Rotary Club
Frognal Gardens built a mini frog habitat for us! A puncture-proof basin including plants in the middle of a sunny area and close to enough hiding spaces for frogs outside the pond. We added frog spawn and lots of pond creatures (daphnia, cyclops, water hog-lice, ...) that will keep the pond healthy and clear. Cost: donated by Frognal Gardens
In August '22 we revamped the wildlife pond (cost: £400). Sadly, it got vandalised, we have tried everything but we now removed this pond and instead created a new water reservoir in the new orchard using the plants from the old pond. Instead, David turned the hole into a bug habitat! Genius.
Food and shelter with an RSPB approved bird-friendly hedge (140 whips planted in Jan '23) and a wild bird wildflower meadow (sown in January '23) will make one area a true sanctuary for our feathered friends and bird watchers. Cost: £300
In autumn '23, we want to increase the length and the depth of this hedge.
Inspired by the Tower of London Superbloom, we want to create our own! The colour scheme is purple, just like the school colours. We sowed mostly annual wildflower seeds in March '23, and they are in full bloom now. Another very dry area with hardly any soil was sown with suitable wildflower seeds that hopefully make it through dry spells. Cost: £100
Hedgehogs have been recorded in this part of the Heath and we want to increase the area that they call home. We dug a hole (aka 'hedgehog highway') planted hedge bubbles alongside the fence separating the school from the park and they will complement the existing trees. Heath Hands donated a hedgehog house and a log pile. They created a dead hedge for more habitat and food sources.
An unused area in the front was planted up with 16 small apple and 3 small pear trees plus 16 fruit bushes (all colour currants, honeyberries and gooseberries). We also sowed annual wildflower seeds for a splash of colour and nectar for insects. Every school should have some form of a kitchen garden and an orchard is easy to maintain and brings a lot of joy. A bug hotel will be home for a few solitary bees we hope. Cost: £850
In a less wild border, we are planting perennials that pollinators love, such as nepeta, salvia, monarda, verbena, ... . The colour scheme is purple (with a splash of yellow), the school colours! Cost: £350
We have installed 8 water butts in two different parts of the school grounds that will hold a total of 1600l water. Cost: circa £600 (50% paid by the school.
We removed small conifers and instead planted hundreds of spring bulbs, perennials for pollinators and built log piles. It looks a bit bare right now but will burst into colour in spring '24.
We are working weekly with the gardening club at Parliament Hill School and have finished many exciting projects that are now closely monitored.
During our fabulous community planting event in February '23, we planted a mini forest, cleaned the pond and sowed a wildflower meadow. Frognal Gardens donated and installed another mini pond and we are marvelling at the tadpoles and at the little creatures that keep a pond healthy. Heath Hands installed bird and bat boxes, donated logs and hedgehog house.
We are more than just a lovely project - we educate, we take actions and we bring the community together. Growing Green is part of the climate change solution and we are very proud of what we have achieved so far.