School gardening club sculpture to exhibit at Hampton Court show

Hollickwood School gardening club

Hollickwood School gardening club - Credit: Nigel Sutton

To the visitor from Inner London, the first striking thing about Hollickwood School is that it has a field, plus many different outside spaces and a wild garden that really is wild.

However, we were not in Muswell Hill to see wildness, but a work of human ingenuity, a wonderful sculpture made by the Gardening Club. It is due to be displayed at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Show in early July.

The work of many months, The Beacon of Nature, is a tower, tapering like a lighthouse, designed to attract different wild creatures. The children built it with the help of chief Gardening Club volunteer, Tim Ferrar and several more adults but, as Tim emphasised, the ideas all came from them.

Lora Vida and Kitty Tytherleigh Hollickwood School gardening club

Lora Vida and Kitty Tytherleigh from Hollickwood School gardening club with their sculpture - Credit: Nigel Sutton

This claim was backed up by the thoughtful, detailed explanation of the tower given by two Year 5 pupils, Lora Vida and Kitty Tytherleigh. All the levels are hexagonal, getting smaller as they go up. The bottom one stands in a tray of water with yellow flag iris, and will have fish. Leading over the water is a tunnel for hedgehogs, so they can set up home in the shadowy dry vegetation provided on the first hexagon.

The roof of their tunnel gives a ramp for the mice, who will find home-making materials on the next level. Nesting and pollinating insects have their needs catered for on the further two hexagons, while sparrows and other small birds are invited to settle on level 6.

Hollickwood School gardening club

Hollickwood School gardening club - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Above them, bigger birds are offered a hanging feeder. Finally comes the beacon, in the form of an LED lantern, sitting among the sorts of bedding plants (eg petunia and marigold) which are tucked in on many of the levels.

Some garden club members plan to be at Muswell Hill Horticultural Society Flower Show on June 26 to show pictures and notebooks of the Beacon, but transporting the actual thing to Hampton Court is going to take all the care and volunteer time available. (Also in the notebooks are photos of the fine bulb display planted as a tribute to the NHS, which bloomed while the school was locked down.)

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If love, imagination, thought and care are enough to help the natural world, this marvellous Beacon will surely do it, even if some of the creatures prefer to make their own arrangements in the quiet of the wild garden.


Keep the soil in pots moist. Once it dries, water runs through without benefitting the plants.

All sorts of seeds, from radishes and lettuces to annual flowers, will now come up quickly.

Muswell Hill Flower Show, June 26 at 3.00pm, North Bank, Pages Lane. As well as flowers, veg, fruit and schoolchildren, there’ll be a writers’ table, including your own gardening correspondent.

Plenty of beautiful local gardens open through the NGS including on June 20; 5 St Regis Close, N10 2DE from 2.00- 6.30 and 74, Willifield Way, NW11 6YJ from 1.30 – 5.30.