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Signs Express Southampton has recently donated their expertise to local school Wyvern College, by producing a bespoke sign which will be used as one of the main features in their new wildlife garden project. The haven for wildlife has been developed in the heart of Wyvern College by Science teacher Vicky Oakey, and youth worker Mike Eldridge. Working with students, Mike has built raised beds, established a pond, planted trees, bushes and shrubs, and planted a nectar bar full of wild flowers which attract bees. Romsey Reclamation and Veolia kindly donated materials for the garden and the whole project, promoting the importance of protecting and boosting local biodiversity, has taken three years. Mike Eldridge often brings students to the Wildlife garden which is a peaceful zone away from the busy-ness of the College, ideal for reflection and discussion. Students also come to the garden for small group activities such as pond dipping for tadpoles in the water-lily rich pond, identifying wildlife, learning about food webs, and recognising plants that attract wildlife. Some of the interesting features of the garden, incorporated by Mike Eldridge and Vicky Oakey, a founding member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, are that the garden demands minimal weeding which encourages wildlife to use seed heads, dead leaves and twigs for food and nesting. Bird boxes have been installed and plants chosen with a long flowering period – from early spring to late autumn. Water boatmen, frogs and pond skaters inhabit the pond and a woodpile is a perfect hibernation spot for insects, millipedes and spiders. The finishing touch to the garden has been the stunning, individually made sign, designed by Vicky, explaining its ethos, aims, and achievements. Vicky Oakey says, 'Protecting and improving local wildlife is so important and the plight of bees has been well documented in the media over recent years. We really could not live without them. Pollinating insects, such as bees, ensure the success of commercial crop harvests such as tomatoes and strawberries and they contribute over £400 million per year to the UK economy. If the declines in bumblebees and other pollinators continue, the high cost of pollinating these plants by other means could significantly increase the cost of our fruit and vegetables. We hope this garden will encourage people to do all they can in their own gardens to help our local biodiversity and contribute to the national fight to support wildlife.' Find out more at: http://bumblebeeconservation.org/

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