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My first nature table


My first memories of a nature table are from Primary two, St Margaret’s School for Girls in Newington in Edinburgh. It was the day before an end of year parents’ evening, a sunny June day.

Miss Black, young hapless Miss Black in her first teaching job, wanted to make an impression. She led us across the playing field, a little line of dark green pinafores, to collect twigs and cones and flowers for our classroom nature table.

She led us right across the playing field to where trees fringed a small stream. We each had a jam jar which we dilligently stuffed with greenery.

Then Miss Black spotted an amazing plant, a plant that would surely ensure our nature table stood out from the rest, a towering umbellifer. She went to pick it, she battled back up the slope to us clutching it aloft. Giant hogweed.

By the time we got back to school Miss Black was beginning to blister, we were greeted by shrieks from other staff. The hogweed was ostentatiously bundled into a binbag, Miss Black was bundled away, we got to join Mrs Munro and the infants for story time.

The 2B nature table never got finished - the jars remained unlabelled, the leaves unpressed. Miss Black appeared at school next day her hands bandaged up, her face splotched and burning.

That evening parents mulled over whether she was a suitable influence. They gathered and gasped at the danger we had narrowly escaped.

I remember believing that the plant had eaten her fingers.

Nature tables acquired a dangerous glamour.

I would love to know your early experience of nature tables - let me know in the comments;

Much love


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Comments: 5 (Add)

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Susan Briggs

I'll think of Miss Black next time I battle with the giant hogweed in my garden! I don't really have a 'first' memory of nature tables - I've sort of assumed they've always been there. I still make one, in my hall. It's a random collection of cones, seeds, flowers, twigs - whatever I happen to come across. Never labelled, never organised. Now the natural finds are also joined by bits of ceramics and glass found along the edge of the river outside my house. I still feel nostalgic and excited when I read the words 'nature table' - they're somehow soothing and reassuring too.

Gill Harris

I remember my youngest daughter always keen to take flowers & leaves into school for the teacher & nature table ! Sticky buds from the horse chestnut with its horseshoe marking on the stems & always a bunch of nose drops ( snowdrops ) !

Kelly Ireland

Our first proper nature table came about when my children were around three, four and five years old (yes, I really did have babies that close together.)

We cleared a shelf on our bookcase at their height and would add to it. We were also members of a local farm attraction, spending several days a week there. The staff got to know us well, and when we told them about our nature table they started to save things for us. A small bird's skull, an owl pellet, a dried frog. The most memorable was a winter's morning. When we arrived the staff were practically jumping up and down with excitement.

There had been a rather sad accident where one of the barn owls had fallen into a water barrel. It had perished but the staff had fishes it out and kept it to show the children. They then sent it off to the taxidermist and as far as I am aware, he still graces the reception area of the farm.

Andrea Thomas

Luv your window displays...i had to build a narrow shelf off 2 of my windows, (bedroom & sitting room) to be able to put small things on it. Directly under the window and indented is a radiator in both rooms, so i need to be careful what is on the shelves when the heat is on, but starting to use them more. Bottles i ordered from you are still with my friend in the UK, i shall collect them in June, so wonder if you still have some in case i want to order some more??

Andrea Thomas

I have things scattered all over the place that i collect on walks, but no nests or skeletons....mainly stones or glass as I collected lots while on a long vacation on Wards Island in Toronto and also here on Lake Como. The flat stoned "inuksuk" i made in both glass and stones but gave the rest away. I particularly love a fork i found and mounted. I've brot a few together and have taken a photo.