Voluntary project to create wildlife haven

A disused garden at a Southampton children’s centre is being turned into a wildlife haven where youngsters will be able to get up close and personal with birds, bees and bugs.

Volunteer gardener Russell Brewer is on a one-man mission to restore the shady corner at Pickles Coppice in Millbrook to its former glory by creating a nature area.

Already, green fingered Russell has cut back branches, planted 500 bulbs, put up two bird boxes plus a dormouse tube, and made a little bench out of two tree stumps and some wood.

Three hazel trees have been generously donated through the Southampton National Park City scheme.

Wildflower seeds will be sown in March to give the semi-woodland coppice an authentic splash of colour in the late summer and early autumn. Giant sunflowers are also a possibility.

Russell, 53, from Freemantle in Southampton, has also made a bug hotel for the wildlife area, which will be installed once the weather warms up.

“The thing with gardening is you never know exactly how things will turn out,” said Russell, who worked in construction for 36 years before taking semi-retirement last year.

“Although this is naturally quite a shady spot, it is lovely when the sun comes out. Hopefully the children will be able to enjoy some bug hunts and other activities out here.”

Russell, a keen gardener, volunteers one morning a week at Pickles Coppice, fitting it in around his new part-time job in ecology.

He began the project in November after spotting an appeal for volunteers on Solent NHS Trust’s website.

Mark Young, Associate Director of Estates Transformation, said: “The children’s garden at Pickles Coppice had fallen into a state of disrepair so we are extremely grateful to Russell for helping us give it this new lease of life.

“We have a lot of estate and unfortunately aren’t always able to make the most of the potential our sites have to offer. A project like this can really make all the difference to our patients, visitors, staff and the local wildlife.”



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