St Michael’s School, Aldbourne celebrated the opening of their new Rain Garden this week. The opening ceremony was attended by members of the community, parents, teachers, pupils and many volunteers. The Reverend Sue Rodd blessed the garden and the Chair of Aldbourne Parish Council, Alison Edmonds, cut the ribbon to declare the garden open.
The Rain Garden was developed in partnership with Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and was made possible by funding from Thames River Trust, Revere Charitable Trust and St Michael’s School. Some elements of the garden, including an oak bridge, trees and plants, were donated by Thames Water from their gold-medal winning garden at the 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.
Local garden designer, Wendy Allen, proud winner of a Gold medal and Best Sustainable Garden award at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, designed the Rain Garden.
At the opening ceremony Year 6 pupils from the school showed visitors around the garden which includes a pond, water butts for water play, a sandpit and a wooden walkway. Pupils from Years 1 and 2 shared their views on the new outside space which offers many opportunities for them to challenge themselves.
A variety of different elements in the garden enhance pupils’ play and allows them to be busy, inquisitive and purposeful. There are bug hotels, ceramic flowers, bee houses, hedgehog homes and a beautiful butterfly bench.
Rain gardens slow the flow of rainwater, helping to reduce flash flooding. Rain water is stored so that the pupils can enjoy water play without wasting mains water. The rain water can also be used to water the plants during dry periods. The plants were carefully selected to adapt to both drought and waterlogging and there is also a wildflower area to increase biodiversity.
Headteacher, Judith Arkwright, said, “We are so grateful to the huge number of volunteers who worked so hard in all weathers to complete this fantastic project. We held a series of volunteer days and were blown away by the support from parents, staff, volunteers from the community and local business volunteers from Nationwide, Colgate, Travelport and Vodafone. The project would not have been possible without them.”
“Particular thanks go to Linda Nemeth and Charlotte Hitchmough from ARK and Wendy Allen, who designed the garden. They all went above and beyond to ensure this came together so brilliantly. The inspiration, creativity and sheer hard work that have gone into this project have made it a fantastic success. We are so pleased to have been given this amazing opportunity to enhance our school whilst helping the environment and making Aldbourne more resilient to flooding.”