Hello my name is Ellen, I am the Engagement & Volunteering Officer here at Highdown Gardens.
Alongside Highdown’s reopening, we have also launched our brand new Junior Tree Trail! Children can take on the role of a Plant Hunter as they navigate the gardens using the activity sheet to discover Highdown’s rare and unique trees. The trail encourages youngsters to closely observe tree traits such as bark type, leaf shape, and height, appreciate the variety of different trees from around the world, and to respect the garden’s plants. The activity sheet also includes a tree ID chart, which can be cut out and reused as a ‘Top Tree Trunks’ card game, so children can continue to develop their knowledge at home.
The Trail’s development has had significant community involvement. Nadia Chalk and Nessy Brean, who are local artists and co founders of the non-profit Creative Waves, designed the activity sheet and hand painted plaques signposting each tree on the trail. We also had help from a local woodworking group, Lancing and Sompting Men in Sheds, who repurposed wood from Highdown’s old rose pergola to create posts to for the plaques.
Child using plaque and Tree Trail activity sheet during Creative Waves workshop
(Creative waves, June 2021)
Nessy and Nadia and also educators, and have been holding workshops with local school groups, guiding them along the trail. We have already received some fantastic feedback from children who have participated in the workshops, including year 6 pupils from Chesswood School:
“I learnt a lot of new facts about Highdown Gardens including the names of different trees.”
“I enjoyed experiencing the different types of trees, especially the strawberry tree.”
“I learnt about how important trees are to us and new knowledge about nature.”
It has also been wonderful to see other schools and families walk the Tree Trail independently over the past month, and we hope to see many more. Our Junior Tree Trail guide is stocked in the visitor centre, or you can download the trail on our website.
Many thanks to Creative Waves, Lancing and Sompting Men in Shed, and everyone who has taken part in the Tree Trail so far. Thank you also to the National Lottery, who have funded the creation of the project.
See also: Download our trails