Eager Beavers

Here, Mel Coath (of the Triangle Garden events team and Hitchin Nature Network) describes our latest adventures in nature with a group of Hitchin Beavers:

‘It was a sunny March evening and sixteen excited 6-8 year olds had just buzzed into the Triangle Garden chattering away. “Don’t just talk at them” my wise friend advised me when I’d offered to run a session for our local Beavers group. “Good point!” I agreed and prepared a short Q&A and a treasure hunt to help them learn about the garden without the lecture.

That evening I was also recovering from a nasty cough and raising my voice was not an option. Magically, the quieter I was, they quieter they were! They huddled round and leant in… “Why Triangle?” I asked. What is a community? Who does the garden benefit? As a nature enthusiast I was heartened with the range of birds, bugs, butterflies, flowers and other wildlife they came up with. Of course part of the garden’s role is also for horticultural therapy and I was struck by how thoughtful their answers were when reflecting on how the garden helps people – “Because it’s peaceful”, “It’s relaxing”, “It’s really beautiful!”

Then it was time to explore! “Where’s the owl?”, I quizzed them and they crowded round the beautiful mosaic in the centre of the garden. “Where do frogs live?” and some rushed to the river, others to the pond so we reflected on why frogs and their tadpoles might prefer the still waters of the pond to the rushing currents of the stream.

“Find the forest!” On arriving at the forest garden, the children crouched down and we discussed what we might find on the ground layer such as strawberry plants; then we stood half up and made a list of fruit bushes such as currants, then we stretched our hands high and talked about the fruit and nut trees in the top layer. Their eyes widened at the thought of honeyberries, Nashi pears and strawberry trees and I encouraged them to explore the mini-forest in their own time.

March is a wonderful month to visit the garden as it emerges from the Winter’s rest. After another brainstorm about what we might see this season, I furnished the children with “Signs of Spring” sheets and with undiminished energy they rushed off, ticking off tree blossom, new leaf buds, and spring flowers as they went.

Next up was a chance for them to undertake a task to help the garden’s wildlife: to replenish our purpose-built bug hotel, cleverly made from pallets, with a ready supply of sticks. Much discussion ensued on which type of sticks worked well. “Maybe that’s a little bit big, shall we put it over here?” I responded as a couple of hefty branches were presented.

Finally, the light had faded and there was just time for 10 minutes of the “torch game” catching runners in the beam of light before their parents came to take them home. I was touched at how engaged they’d been and realised I’d enjoyed the evening at least as much as they had. Which was a good thing as I’d already promised to run another session two weeks later for a second group of “eager Beavers”!’

Thanks go to Mel for volunteering her time to run these sessions, and for writing this blog. Thanks also to the 5th and 16th Hitchin Beavers for their generous donations. If your local Beaver group would like a nature-connection session at the Triangle Garden please do get in touch. Thanks 🙂