Shayna Soong, Schools Learning Officer discusses the recent Wildlife Pond renovation and upcoming family activities and school sessions on the Nature Trail.
Nestled at the bottom of the Horniman Gardens lies a wonderful habitat corridor known as the Nature Trail. The site of a former railway, this trail is a tranquil oasis for wildlife and visitors alike.
At the end of the trail lays a wildlife pond and log meadow – both fantastic habitats in their own right, and a great setting for school and family outdoor learning sessions.
Unfortunately, the pond had rather suffered in recent times – the dipping platform was decaying, the water had filled up with tree leaves and duckweed, and the whole area was overgrown and gloomy.
Before: the old platform. slippery, sagging and too small, Wesley Shaw
Pond covered in duck weed and rotting platform timbers, Wesley Shaw
Gardens Team to the rescue!
Kevin and Daniel of the Gardens team set to work early this year, digging out the decaying old platform, clearing vegetation and excavating a new route to the log meadow.
The team built a new, extended platform with non-slip strips, a seating/workspace at the back and removable barriers at the front. A fabulous walkway was also created, with steps up to a new gate providing direct access to the log meadow.
The duckweed has been cleared and native marginal and submerged pond plants have been established. The tree canopy has also been reduced to allow more light into the pond. These measures will help to oxygenate the pond which, in turn, will encourage more aquatic wildlife.
After: new steps and gate through to log meadow
Foundations for the new platform, Wesley Shaw
Kevin sawing decking for the new platform, Wesley Shaw
Kevin and Daniel hard at work, Wesley Shaw
The finished platform, Wesley Shaw
Pond cleared of duckweed, Wesley Shaw
There are plenty of newts living in the pond, the star of any pond dipping session, along with aquatic invertebrates such as dragonfly nymphs and water boatmen.
The improvements to the pond and surrounding area will make a huge difference to the experience of families and school groups taking part in learning sessions on the Nature Trail.
The Learning Team would like to extend a huge “thank you” to the Gardens Team, in particular, Kevin and Daniel, for their time and hard work.
Pond dipping session, Megan Taylor
For schools, the Nature Trail is a fantastic place to bring your Science topic to life. During guided learning sessions, pupils can directly experience native British habitats and learn a range of fieldwork skills under expert guidance, and all in a safe, managed environment.
Families can also experience the wonders of the Nature Trail during supervised pond dipping sessions during the school holidays and guided Welly Walk events.