Aim of school garden to attract native birds, skinks

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St Gerard’s School pupils swapped brick and mortar classrooms for some time in the sunshine last week as the whole school participated in a planting project that was driven by two passionate pupils.

Charis Morrell and Hannah Tait directed pupils of all ages to dig up the dirt at the school’s Station St entrance to create a new garden to encourage native species back to the area.

Charis said the idea for the garden started when they visited local conservation advocate Lynne Stewart, who had successfully encouraged native birds and reptiles back by planting native species around her property.

Charis and Hannah then began developing a plan for a garden at the school entrance. They worked with volunteers from the Clyde Railhead Community Eco-Nursery to learn more about what plants would be suitable.

The plan was then presented to the school’s board of trustees.

“They thought it was a really good idea but they had a few concerns,” Charis said.

The plan was then adapted to ensure native skinks would be protected from roaming cats and other possible threats, and the final design included 83 plants and 17 plant species.

The plants were sourced locally from the eco-nursery and Otago Polytechnic to ensure they would survive in Alexandra’s tough climate.

Charis said she hoped the garden would raise awareness about the importance of protecting native ecosystems.