Pupils from Milton of Balgonie School were extremely proud to show off how the hedge they planted at Balgonie Estate back in September 2016 was thriving.
The school pupils invited members of staff from Balgonie Estates and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust along to see first-hand all that they had been doing to give the hedge the best possible start in life.
When the children planted the 300 plug plants in September 2016 they wrapped them in vole guards to protect the young, delicate stems. They quickly realised that protection was also needed from dogs and designed posters, which Balgonie Estate kindly erected, to alert the public walking their dogs that this was a newly planted hedge.
Over the winter months the children made regular visits to check the plants were thriving. Head teacher Shiobhan Haldane said: “The children were always keen to visit what they now view as their hedge, and although they were surprised and disappointed at how little it grew over the winter months, they are now delighted with the growth in recent weeks and are encouraged by this.”
The youngsters have also done a little bit of an experiment themselves without realising it: they can now see how the plants in the area where they removed the weeds has grown better than the area that is not weed free. Hopefully this will motivate them to continue with the weeding process.
Today was an opportunity to plant wildflower seeds, which they hope will encourage bees. Sheena Stewart from the GWCT said: “I have no doubt the next step will be a request from the pupils to hang bee houses. They have already hung some in the woods near to their school. It is hoped that the school pupils will continue to look after the hedge, which they have a great pride in, and that the school’s involvement with Balgonie Estate and the GWCT will continue for many years to come.”
The pupils were also keen to tell of the journey they have been on as part of the ‘Connection to Nature Challenge’, the outdoor learning project the school has embarked on. They have completed stage 3 and are the only primary school in Fife to do this. The three parts are adventure skills, helping the environment and journeying. It is clear to see from speaking with the pupils how much fun they have had and how much they enjoyed the learning process.
Balgonie Estates are delighted that they have been able to assist the school with helping in the environment and also that the hedge plants they donated are very much thriving under the care of the pupils. Thanks also has to go to the GWCT team, who inspired the children to plant the hedge in order to create habitats ideally suited to both game and songbirds and to find out about the research work being carried out at Balgonie.