School Garden Challenge

The School Garden Challenge is always a highlight of the festival. These young gardening enthusiasts are keen to share their gardening stories with you. This is a great place for you to bring your youngsters, as they can explore what they can create at home.

Lee Connelly, the Skinny Jean Gardener, has taken on the role as mentor to the schools. As well as gardening Lee loves to vlog, and is teaching the students how to do this.

This year’s theme is ‘A Moment in Time’. Young designers, from 12 schools, have captured a unique moment in time as if it was a photograph.

The School Gardens have found a new home this year next to the Show Gardens, where young enthusiasts can be inspired by expert designers. 

Abberley Hall School, Worcestershire

Year Groups: Pre-prep and year 3 - 8

The Big Bang

The garden focuses on the Big Bang. The colours associated with the event, are very vibrant and diverse. The garden features a ball of fire created from vibrant shades of grasses and flowers. There is a hand to signify a divine power or God.

The fence surrounding the explosion indicates there was nothing before this event. The plants used in the garden vary from Petunias to Moss on the divine hand in the very centre of the garden.

Students wanted to be part of this ambitious project so they could showcase both their growing and engineering skills.

With thanks to garden sponsor: Angel Gardens

Ashton Keynes Church of England Primary School, Wiltshire

Year Group: All year groups

Ashton Keynes Remembers

The garden looks at celebrations that took place in Ashton Keynes in 1945 for Victory in Europe day.

It is set after everyone has left the party, the table looks as if the people have just left. Viewpoints around the garden allow visitors to take photos to capture a moment in time.

With thanks to garden sponsors: Heritage Books, Red Onion Catering and Aqua Wedding Flowers and Events

Bredon School, Gloucestershire

Year Group: Years 3-6

My Moment in Time

As children consider their birthdays to be key moments in time, the garden is a snapshot of a Disney themed fancy dress party. Guests to the party are based on Disney characters. 

To represent the idea of the birthday being a moment in time the garden is circular. The tallest part of a central water feature becomes the gnomon of a large sun dial. As the sunshine’s the shadow from the sundial moves around the garden, demonstrating the passage of time over the day.

Up-cycled materials such as pallets form structures and planters, a large barrel becomes a water tank and old roof slates form part of the water feature. The perimeter edge of the garden is a modern take on traditional woven willow garden edging, created using old hose-pipe.

The planting is simple and colourful, using commonly found, hardy bedding plants. Many of the plants are grown from seed by pupils. The buffet, for the party, includes fruit and vegetables. The idea being children are inspired by how easy it is to create a small colourful garden and grow their own food.

Cherry Orchard Primary School, Worcestershire

Year Group: All year groups

A Moment in Time: Flights of Fancy

The school’s eco and gardening clubs engaged in several sessions of passionate debate to decide the garden design. The children voted on the first manned flight as a moment which inspired them.

This led the children to discover the Montgolfier brothers and the first successful balloon flight over Paris. The children imagined the scene and agreed that this event would have astounded the crowd, as the impossible was made possible.

Taking inspiration from the Tuileries gardens of Paris, the garden is formal with swirls and patterns. The balloon takes centre stage.

The children made models of their ideas and this encouraged them to adapt the design to add greater height. They manipulated the layout to give a feeling of event which spectators would have experienced in that moment of 1783.

So, step back in time and watch as the ideas and dreams take flight…

Cradley Church of England Primary School, Herefordshire

Year Group: Nursery to Year 6

A Turtle Reaction: Capturing the Moment the World Woke Up

Did you see ‘Blue Planet II’? One hundred and eighty years after the introduction of the silver halide process the series sparked a change in attitude towards the environment. The garden represents this significant moment in time.

In the garden a child is watching Sir David Attenborough on TV. Filled with ideas for helping UK wildlife, the garden is framed by a window as you look in.

The garden is turtle-shaped to echo the message from Blue Planet II and is full of reused and natural materials.

There are many interesting and interactive ideas. There is a hedgehog robot, the stirrup-pump watering system and black-and-white ‘Moments in Time’ painted on canvas.

Different zones contain butterfly-friendly plants, edibles, wild plants and fruit trees. The hedgehog highways allow hedgehogs to move from the garden to the next.

The garden will be recreated at the school and visitors are encouraged to take away at least one idea from the garden to use in their own community.

With thanks to garden sponsors: AG Boniface & Sons and The John Richards Nursery

Malvern Wells Church of England Primary School, Worcestershire

Year Group: All year groups

My First Day at School

The garden is focusing on a memorable photograph every child has. Every year thousands of children capture a special moment when the have photos taken on their first day of school. This is something all the children in the school can remember.

The children thought this is something everyone can remember as a child, parent and grandparent. Pictures still adorn parents and grandparents houses. Now social media posts mark the coming of age occasion.

The garden is divided into two parts, inside and outside school. Children shared their memories of their first day at school in the classroom, and their first taste of forest school and playing outside. Various items such as shoes, school bags, water bottles adorn the garden with plants growing out of them.

With thanks to garden sponsors: Bovis Homes, Newent Plant Centre and Roger Allport Nurseries

Our Place Schools, Worcestershire

Year Groups: 10 - 18 year olds

Elgar’s Edible Garden

The garden reflects Elgar’s music and the surrounding countryside of the Malvern’s. Discover parts of one of the pupil’s favourite places of calm, Worcester Cathedral.

The garden features a stain glass window shining onto the elements of the Malvern Hills, including the wildlife and the water.

The students at Our Place researched photographs of Edward Elgar and things around Worcester and the Malvern’s that are linked to him and combine with their own interests.

The planting of the garden reflects the needs of the pupils at Our Place and have a strong sensory and edible nature.

RGS Worcester, Worcestershire

Year Group: Years 7-9

Newton’s Garden

The RGS garden celebrates the moment in time when Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity. He was sitting under the apple tree in his garden at Woolsthorpe Manor.

Like Newton’s Garden this garden is circular in shape. There is a tribute to that apple tree in the form of a woven willow structure from which the apple hangs.

There is a prism as a water feature, Newton discovered that light could be refracted and its components seen through the use of a prism.

Newton’s work is represented by a copy of his most famous work, The Principia, The Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy. In tribute to the man and the moment there is an organic portrait of Sir Isaac Newton and a sculpture of a hand holding an apple. This is based on the sculpture found in Newton’s garden.

With thank to garden sponsors: Angel Gardens, Wyldwood Willow and The Parents Association RGS Worcester

Stanley Road Primary School and Nursery, Worcestershire

Year Group: All year groups


The garden is the moment in which time began. A child in Reception exclaimed “I know how time was made!” during a discussion about ‘a moment in time’. From there, children talked about their understanding of how our world came into being.

The Big Bang theory shapes the garden, with a small black hole in the centre and 'everything' exploding outwards. ‘Everything’ is represented by planting in as many colours and varieties as possible.

Children shared and researched different theories and beliefs around the creation of our world. Each strand bears a representation of these, reflecting the diverse beliefs within our school community and the world as a whole.

The Hubble telescope can be seen orbiting the garden. In January 2019, Hubble captured the creation of a galaxy 12.8 billion years ago. Will it one day capture 00:00:01? 

Tudor Grange Academy Worcester, Worcestershire

Year Group: Years 7-9

Plastic Paradox

The garden encompasses a dilemma currently facing the planet, in terms of pollution. The garden illustrates a beautiful garden which branches out from a person's backyard, until it gradually becomes a beach with a very different story.

In the garden area there are colourful flowers, a bench made from recycled materials, and a greenhouse made of recycled plastic bottles. This design is important as it represents how plastic can be used in useful and beautiful ways when we give it the opportunity. This is a great contrast to what we see when we reach the beach zone.

The beach zone demonstrates the current situation with the disposal of plastics and how it affects our planet. You can see a turtle made of plastics, to represent that some animals are being injured due to incorrect disposal of plastics.

Pupils have researched the appropriate plants that grow in British seaside gardens. They have also consider the different soil types.

Wye Forest Federation: St Briavels Primary School and Redbrook Primary School, Gloucestershire

Year Group: All year groups


“Let your mind take a photograph”

The garden is inspired by the beautiful views from the playgrounds at St Briavels and Redbrook Schools.

The Wye Valley has a great heritage as a holiday destination from the 18th century, it is considered the birthplace of British tourism. William Gilpin produced the first tour guide, published in 1783, which included many of his own pictures. The area’s beauty has been the inspiration for many famous poets including Wordsworth.

The garden captures childhood “Moments” growing up in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. Plants have been chosen that represent the woodland areas, particularly the bluebells found in May. The plants chosen enable pollinators to have a longer season and help keep nature at the heart of the garden.

Keen to maintain an environment rich in diversity there are homes for many of the birds and mammals that live in our valley. The children have also made wooden creatures that can be found in the local area.

With thanks to garden sponsors: Village News – Brockweir, Hewelsfield & St Briavels and St Briavels Parent Teacher Association