Science Garden at Techniquest Glyndwr
Techniquest Glyndŵr has been successful in obtaining around £34K of funding to transform a derelict and unused area of ground to the rear of the LEIS building used by the popular Science Centre on the Plas Coch Campus of the University. The objective of the Science Garden is to establish an outdoor educational space that will complement the indoor space of Techniquest Glyndŵr that houses over 75 hands-on interactive science exhibits.
Once complete the Science Garden will offer a mixture of planted areas and features such as wheelchair friendly surfacing, raised beds and pond area, a composting area and a number of working exhibits of equipment that will illustrate the primary scientific themes of Biodiversity, Renewable Energy and Recycling.
The Garden has been made possible through funding from WREN, Thomas Howell’s Educational Fund for North Wales,Awards for All – Big Lottery Wales , and the players of the Peoples Postcode Lottery through the Local Grants Fund.
It is hoped that the Garden will be officially opened in the Summer of 2017 offering an attractive educational resource that will be open free of charge to both the general public and schools alike at times when the main centre is open, but secured at such times as Techniquest Glyndŵr is closed to the public.
Most of the funding obtained was utilised in carrying out the basic groundworks. There are now in place two large raised bed areas, a medium sized pond with a pond-dipping platform installed and surfacing over approximately half of the garden area which is comprised of recycled rubber forming a wheelchair friendly surface. Donated soil improver from Wrexham Borough Council produced from the Borough’s household green waste collection scheme has helped to improve the soil in the raised beds and is being used for various container planters around the garden.
Other items are now gradually being installed including large reused containers being used to store rainwater gathered from the guttering of the LEIS building, three composting bays made out of recycled agricultural plastic, outdoor seating and tables made out of recycled agricultural plastic and the beginnings of a “bug hotel” making use of redundant wooden pallets to hold materials suitable to create habitats that will be attractive to a wide variety of insects and wildlife.
A greenhouse constructed out of clear plastic bottles is also part of the plan.A target of 3,500 2L clear plastic bottles has been set for the project and the engagement of two local schools and a number of local residents has meant that the target has almost been reached and construction work can soon start. The greenhouse will incorporate an underground heat store that will store heat from the greenhouse during the day and return it to the space at night time to help maintain a more steady temperature for plant growth.
Glass cullet donated by recycling company Recresco from their site at Ellesmere Port has provided the material to store the heat which has now filled a cavity lined with expanded polystyrene insulation boards which is to form the base of the greenhouse. Volunteers from Wrexham Glyndŵr University, staff at Techniquest Glyndŵr and local residents are now being sought to carry out the construction work.
The raised beds are soon to be planted with a variety of plants; these include culinary and medicinal herbs, plants that have different sensory characteristics (texture, scent and sound) which are intended to be included within a sensory trail, a few examples of food plants, and a significant proportion of plants that are known to be attractive to pollinating insects. A small number of donated apple trees are to be planted in the open area of the garden together with some examples of soft fruit such as raspberries and strawberries. A wildflower border will be cultivated to help attract insect life. The top of the insect hotel has been prepared as a “green roof” which will be sown with seeds that will germinate into plants that will be extremely attractive to bees.
Linking up with Wrexham Glyndŵr University’s renewable energy course, two undergraduate students with final year projects have been working on installing solar photovoltaic solar panels to gather electrical energy from the sun and a solar thermal panel to gather heat energy from the sun to heat water for use in a basin to be installed in the garden area. The Solar PV panel is connected to a battery which stores the electrical energy and in turn, powers a water pump driving water up to the top of a small artificial waterfall, and eventually will also power an air pump that will drive warm air gathered from the top of the plastic bottle greenhouse through the heat store to transfer heat which can be used at night time to help minimise temperature fluctuations within the greenhouse.
It is intended that an official opening of the Science Garden will be held during the summer of 2017 probably in early August.