An overgrown bed of nettles has been transformed into a nature garden for an Oxford pre-school.

The garden at the Mortimer Hall Pre-School, in Oxford Road, Old Marston, cost about £1,200 to create, and was partly funded by donations from the families of the pre-school’s pupils.

Pre-school committee chairman Gill Cox said: “It was something that was recommended when we asked the county council what we could do to cheer up our play area.

“As soon as the gate was opened, the children were in there, looking around and seeing what was there.

“It’s still got quite a bit of a way to go to finish because we want to make it even more interesting.”

The project was first discussed two years ago. Treasurer Andrea Jones said: “It has taken us so long to raise the funds because we needed to build a strong fence for security reasons.

“We also had a shortage of manpower, and the weather was awful, but eventually we got the fence up and got things up and running.” A willow dome has been installed, trees planted, and the whole area cleared and replanted. As well as providing a safe outdoor play area for the youngsters, organisers hope to use the garden to teach children about different plants, insects and birds.

A bird feeder has been installed and the next stage, if funding can be found, will be to build a brick building to store bicycles used by staff, parents and children.

A ‘hide’ will also be built to allow children to watch birds without disturbing them. The pre-school currently has 78 pupils aged between two-and-a-half and four.

Pre-school supervisor Caroline Hudson said: “It’s going to be wonderful for them. “They will be able to go off and explore and hopefully learn about the bugs and creatures that live in the garden. “We will be using it at playtime but also looking for bugs and developing their languages and their understanding of the world.”