Shannon Group biodiversity garden – Pictured jumping for joy in the garden is Molly McPhillips holding the signatures of her classmates which will be hung on trees around the garden. Picture: Arthur Ellis.
Launch of Shannon Group community garden celebrated during National Biodiversity Week
A ten-year-old primary school student has seen her winning garden design in full bloom during the launch of Shannon Group’s new community biodiversity garden.
Last year, ten-year-old Molly McPhillips, a fourth-class student at St Senan’s National School in Shannon, won a competition to design a new biodiversity garden in Shannon, after her design was selected as the popular vote on social media.
Today, Molly, along with her classmates, returned to see her inspiring garden design in full bloom during a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the community garden on the Shannon Campus.
Speaking at the launch, Shannon Group’s Head of Sustainability Sinead Murphy said, “ At Shannon Group we are committed to sustainability, and as this week marks Biodiversity week, it’s fitting that we are here to officially celebrate the launch of our Shannon Group biodiversity garden. It’s fantastic to have Molly and her classmates with us today, to see how her design has inspired the garden layout. Molly had wanted a garden that was ‘magical and friendly’ and I think seeing the reaction here today, her design has certainly helped us encapsulate that.”
After exploring the Shannon Group biodiversity garden and seeing her inspirational design blossom into this new community amenity, Molly said, “ I love all the wildflowers and the nature all around here. I am really happy, excited and proud. I planted a tree and I got to put the soil in, and a few of my friends helped me and we got to make a plaque that all my class took part in and we coloured it, to hang up on the tree.”
Molly’s winning design included a bug hotel, fruit trees, and a seating area.
Following months of planting, pruning and a little patience, the garden now features a wildflower meadow and wildflower lawn bursting with native Irish wildflowers such as Wild ‘Shamrock’ Clovers, Bog Rosemary, Cowslips and Red Clover, to name a few. While flowering spring bulbs of Daffodils, Crocus, Hyacinths, and Tulips have been planted to provide an early source of food for pollinators.
Realising Molly’s vision, the garden is home to bee and bug hotels, an earthen bank for hibernating bees, and a log pile to provide shelter for insects and promote fungi species integral to the garden’s environment.
Over 35 pupils from St. Senan’s National School, in Shannon, took part in a tree planting ceremony and helped to create a wooden plaque for the garden. They also received a talk on the purpose of each specific area of the garden before being sent home with seedlings to grow themselves.
The new garden, which is open to the public, is located on the Shannon Campus near the entrance to the Shannon Free Zone and Shannon Airport.
In February 2021, Shannon Group launched a competition that enlisted Clare students to get creative and help design a biodiversity garden for residents of Shannon and visitors to the area to enjoy.
Over 70 entries were received and shortlisted to 13 finalists from three Shannon Schools, St. Conaire’s National School, St Senan’s Primary School and St. Tola’s National School. These were put to a public vote on social media to select the winner.
Biodiversity Garden Features
Wildflowers Lawn: In this area, the grass is cut less often to allow for wildflowers to bloom and provide nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, beetles and many more insects. Some of the species of flower planted in the garden that are native to Ireland are: Wild ‘Shamrock’ Clovers, Shamrock, Bog Rosemary, Easter Lily, Sheep’s-Bit, Spring Squill, Cowslips and Red Clover.
Wildflowers Meadow: In this area, the grass is cut once per year to allow the taller wildflowers to bloom and provide a source of nectar for pollinators. The long grass is also an ideal habitat for small animals such as frogs, mice, and hedgehogs.
Waterway: This garden is surrounded by two canals designated to drain the original marshlands during the construction of Shannon Airport. A nearby water source is vital to any natural area supporting plants and animals.
Log Pile: In natural woodland fallen trees provide a shelter for many insects and fungi species. We have created this log pile to recreate that environment and attract local species to move into this habitat.
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