On 29th September Techniquest Glyndŵr’s long awaited Science Garden was officially opened to the public. The opening ceremony at the popular Science Discovery Centre was attended by local MP Ian Lucas .
The themes of biodiversity, renewable energy and recycling are demonstrated within the science garden and were revealed to the invited guests including pupils from two local primary schools Ysgol Plas Coch and Rhosddu Primary School.
Financial support from various funders amounting to over £33,000, the in-kind support of a number of local companies and over 400 hours of volunteer effort have transformed a piece of unused ground to the rear of one of the buildings used by Techniquest Glyndŵr into an attractive, wheelchair accessible, outdoor space giving visitors an experience of various natural sciences currently not available within the indoor areas of the centre.
Operations Manager, Mandy Jones said
“We are so grateful to our various funders, Wrexham Borough Council, some generous local businesses, and not forgetting the many volunteers who have given their time freely in order to make our plans for a science garden become a reality.
I would also like to thank Wrexham Glyndŵr University for arranging the lease on the additional land for the garden. It has been great to involve students at the university, who have successfully combined work for their respective courses with practical outcomes for the project.”
“I hope that, over time, the garden will become a much loved and visited feature to our centre especially since it can be visited free of charge during centre opening hours. It offers an attractive and quiet place to sit and possibly have a picnic”
There were four major funders to the science garden project and they included WREN who allocated a grant of £18,604 from the FCC Community Action Fund to carry out the basic landscaping works, fencing and creation of a pond. This funding was supported by additional 3rd party funding of £2,000 from Lendlease and Crownhouse, two main contractors involved in building HMP Berwyn.
The Awards for All Big Lottery Wales provided £4,849 which was used to provide rainwater collection equipment, seeds and plants, recycling and compost bins, outdoor seating made out of recycled plastic and a suitable CCTV system to provide security monitoring to the garden. The system can also be used additionally to monitor the interior of bird boxes which are planned to be installed in and around the garden in the future.
The Thomas Howell’s Educational Fund for North Wales provided £4,000 to purchase solar photovoltaic panels to generate electrical power for a water feature and an air pump for a heat store in the greenhouse, outdoor tables made from recycled agricultural plastic, a solar thermal panel to provide hot water for a wash hand basin and a weather station to monitor temperature, wind and rainfall in the garden and finally, Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, awarded £6,076 to purchase a solar powered water pump and high capacity battery, garden tools and equipment, a tool store, signage and additional plants and mulches.
Support for the garden was also provided in kind by various local companies and organisations. ‘Genfit’ the Chester based renewable energy installation company installed the Solartwin solar thermal panel and hand-wash basin free of charge, local landscaping contractors ‘Thomas Landscapes’ installed safety fencing free of charge for the pond area, and Wrexham Borough Council provided and delivered several tonnes of soil improver and mulching material free of charge to get the raised beds and planted areas into shape.
Local schools Ysgol Plas Coch and Rhosddu School together with a number of individual local residents collected over 3,500 2L plastic bottles which have been used to build a greenhouse with walls and roof made out of the bottles threaded onto bamboo poles, with timber for the framework being provided by Techniquest Glyndŵr.
Finally, over 400 hours of voluntary effort were given to the garden project, helping to shift topsoil, soil improver and mulch materials, carry out planting around the garden area, in the raised beds and pond and to design and construct the plastic bottle greenhouse.
After the official opening residents of Wrexham and visitors to Techniquest Glyndŵr will then be able to visit the new Science Garden as they wish free of chargeat times when the Science Centre is open.
Scot Owen, Education Manager of Techniquest Glyndŵr believes that the new development will make a huge difference tothe way that local people and centre visitors will be able to experience the Science Centre.
“The Science Garden is a completely new development for us at Techniquest Glyndŵr. Up until now all of our interactive exhibits have been based indoors and have relied upon visitors coming to the centre and paying for admission.
The Science Garden, being an outside area, will give us an opportunity to have displays and exhibits related to the natural sciences which previously we have been unable to present.
Furthermore, because the garden will be open to the public free of charge whenever the main centre is open, it will mean that local residents will be able to pop round and enjoy the garden as it becomes established and develops without having to pay any admission.
We are really looking forward to further developments for the Science Garden as we involve partner organisations in new initiatives to build on what we have created already.”
“We have been pleased to collaborate with various departments of Wrexham Glyndŵr University as we have developed the garden. For example, through liaison with colleagues in the School of Occupational Therapy in the University we have been able to incorporate elements of the garden that will offer sensory aspects such as texture, scent, sound in the garden.
Involvement of students in various courses such as renewable energy, graphic design and architectural design have produced designs and in some cases the installation of a number of features presented in the garden.”
We are looking forward to involving more students in the future as we develop further ideas that will chime with the broader themes of biodiversity, recycling and renewable energy that the garden seeks to demonstrate.