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School Garden Challenge

The School Garden Challenge supported by BAM Construction is always a highlight of the festival.  You'll be greeted by the young gardening enthusiasts who are keen to share their gardening stories with you.  This is a great place for you to bring your youngsters too so they can explore what they could create at home.

Chris Collins, Head of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic, and former BBC Blue Peter gardener mentors the schools on the best plants to grow and how to design a garden, while BAM Construction works with the students on how to landscape their garden.

The School Gardens area is supported by Nationwide Building Society.

Ashton Keynes C of E Primary, Reception to Year 5

Garden Name: Team AK Steams Ahead

The theme of the garden is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a Victorian engineer who created the Great Western Railway. The garden will showcase some of his best inventions including a tunnel to represent the box tunnel, a bridge copying the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a train and a boat (SS Great Britain), as well as a nod to the Great Western Railway.

The planting is based on industrial colours linking to the era which Brunel lived, as well as plants which the students have grown within forest school sessions. The willow used in the garden is grown at the school and links the school and the Clifton Suspension Bridge creation.  Many of the materials used in the garden are recycled, which has helped teach the students about recycling.  

Birmingham Virtual School / Corporate Parenting 

Garden Name: What's great about Birmingham 

The garden has been supported by Children in Care in Birmingham. The design celebrates Birmingham, form Selfridges to the Canals.  The design at the back of the garden displays the residential homes in Birmingham.

There is a a ‘canal’ running through the middle corner to corner and mosaic tiles in the garden to showcase the car industry, in particular the Jaguar plant in Birmingham. On one side and at the back of the garden, some of Birmingham’s famous landmarks are represented, including the Bullring and Birmingham Library, shaped and decorated by our young people. 

We have used different types of plants dependent on the season, and the colours of claret, blue and white to match our city’s football teams.

Bredon School, Key Stage 2

Garden Name: ‘Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside’

The students initial brain storm about Great Britain focused on fish and chips and the seaside. This theme incorporating everything to do with the seaside fits with KS2 investigations into the lives of the Victorians.

The choice of plants and structures relate to the students impression of the British Seaside. They include plants inspired by the planting often seen at the seaside resorts in the South West Coast of Britain and Victorian Horticulture. The boundaries of the garden includes beach huts, a curve to represent the coastal line created by British beaches and an obelisk to represent a light house, helter skelter or even Blackpool tower.

The students have grown the bedding plants and have chosen to plant vegetables within some of the structures to demonstrate the ability to grow plants successfully with in small spaces.  Fish and Chips are represented by the potatoes planted.  

Cherry Orchard, Key Stage 2

Garden Name: Forces of Nature

The Eco-Gardening Team, who came up with the garden design, wanted the space to say a thank you to the people of the armed forces who protect our freedom. The safety offered by the army, navy and air-force is remembered in our garden as the design surrounds the viewer in their care. What is more, the children wanted to reflect the long term defence the armed forces have provided for us and the sacrifices they have made for us to be free.

The garden drifts gently through planting which symbolises land, sea and sky and is centred around the safe environment they envelop us in. The whole school has been part of the garden’s creation and poppies and toys were sourced from Cherry Orchard pupils. 

The garden begins with sandy, coastal planting to reflect coastal defences and set the foundations of the garden much as the D Day landings were a foundation for the allied victory in World War II. Cargo netting climbers then lead the viewer through to ‘cloud-like’ grasses to represent the air force circling overhead. Planters to represent the RAF and Royal Navy bring in the red, white and blue before an Anderson shelter and a clay poppy garden remind us of the battles of the past.

Greenfields Primary School, Years 5 and 6

Garden Name: A Very British Tea Party (with a twist!)

The garden is based on a tea party in a typical British meadow with inspiration taken from Tailby Meadow, River Ise in Kettering .  It will raise awareness of native plants and their vital role in sustaining the wildlife of the British countryside.  The garden is a quiet relaxing place with large scale teacups as planters and other elements based on a tea party.  Kettering is in the heart of the United Kingdom, we cannot ignore the rich influences from other parts of the globe, expect to see tea plants from India, plants from Italy and Germany, and from other nations represented at the school.

Planting includes; sustainable, local meadow plants to represent the Tailby Meadow, including coppiced willow tree, an Apple Tree to represent English orchards and plants that represent the countries of origin in our school are: Jasmine, Camellia sinensis (tea) and Poppies. As well as be a babbling brook to represent the River Ise.

Malvern Wells CofE Primary School, Whole School

Garden Name: Back to the Tudors

The theme of the garden is Great Britain’s history and heritage and how we use this for tourism today. People from all over the world visit Great Britain to view our historic house, stately gardens, seaside towns and stay in our hotels.

The overall shape of the garden forms a rose, with a central Tudor framed bug hotel which can be relocated after the festival to the school for forest school activities. The four petals contain two structures; a beehive and dovecote, both of these were key features within Tudor gardens.

Two of the petals form ornamental gardens of a Tudor style and the other two feature medicinal and food production with food crops grown by the children at home.

Some of our garden last year has been recycled and used to construct this year’s garden structures including the Tudor bug hotel.

Northleach CofE Primar, Year 4

Garden Name: The Empire Garden of Imports

The garden celebrates the positive impact diversity and multi-culture has brought to British society.  Students are learning about foods from other counties and our history with them encouraging pupils to understand a little more about their food choices they make today.

The garden is structured to look like the Union Jack with plants to represent the blue areas of the flag and paths formed from recycled red bark that is regularly donated to the school. In each corner of the garden there are planters to represent four different countries from the British Empire including India, Africa, Australia and Canada each containing plants that either grow or have been adopted by us from that country.  The garden features a raised interactive cooking area.

Materials used are either renewable or recycled products, the fence, planters and arbour are constructed from hazel and willow which are harvested locally.

RGS Worcester, Year 7 and 8

Garden Name: “Dig for Lunch, Dig for Victory!”

The theme of the garden is based on Sunday lunch, a tradition which brings family and friends together and the students feel this is something that helped make Britain great; a time for family, a sense of sharing and celebration and one recognised the world over. The students have grown their own vegetables to represent the meal and this led them to consider the links between this iconic meal and the Dig for Victory campaign in World War Two.

A range of recycled and recyclable materials have been used and the students have been growing vegetables in hot beds over winter. 

The garden has an Anderson shelter to depict the gardens of WW2. The structure has a corrugated iron front; the shelter itself is false but it is mounded with earth over the top and planted with different types of vegetables. In the ‘condiment corner’ there is an apple tree and a variety of herbs as well as a cowbell chime. The animal structures represent the meat element of the meal and are dotted around the garden itself.

St Briavels Primary School, Whole School

Garden Name: Mushet’s Special Steel

“The Forest taking back the Foundry”

The garden design has been inspired by the natural beauty found within the Forest of Dean and its historic links to the industrial revolution within Great Britain. 2018 is the 150th anniversary of Robert Forester Mushet’s discovery of ‘Mushet’s Special Steel’ (the first commercial steel suitable for tool steels and the first steel railway lines in Britain). The garden embraces the relationship between the Forest’s natural wildlife inhabitants, the historic importance of the Foundry site and its inherent natural resources to create tool steel.

The front section of the garden embodies the sites natural forest beauty with inhabited by woodland wildlife fabricated by upcycled metal with native planting and providing homes for insects and birds with bug hotels and bird feeders.  A railway line running through the forest leads you through a stone arch into Mushet’s foundry. This is the second section where a fiery crucible can be found with hot molten steel planting and an industrial landscape in the distance.

St Briavels School is a small rural primary school with 5 classes named: Bluebell, Daisy, Poppy, Speedwell and Foxglove, which are all represented within planting schemes of the garden, involving all the students throughout the challenge.

St Nicolas CofE Middle School / Pinvin First School / Himbleton First School Collaboration, Reception to Year 7

Garden Name: Coexist

The garden celebrates the union in history of our four nations, our religious diversity, our urban and rural landscapes and how we can coexist with nature. The garden reflects how nature coexists within modern Britain – urban and countryside.

The garden contains structures that represent icons, landmarks and nature of Britain and the 4 nations.  Along with the central feature – the Tree of Unity made from recycled plastic bottles, wire and tubes, each bottle contains an image or message written by the students on a particular Great Britain subject.  The Tree of Unity is the root and growth of our nations over time, yet unified as one.

Plants that naturally occur have been used, including heathers, thistles and grasses as well as plants that take over cities and urban places.

Three Counties Home Educators, 6 – 15yrs old

Garden Name: The Beatrix Potter Garden

The garden showcases many of Beatrix Potter’s talents, expanding beyond her books to show that her legacy has impact today. The garden will enable people to (re)discover Beatrix Potter and her personality.

The structures within the garden reflect Beatrix Potter with the finger post highlighting the many paths of her life and how they have influenced thinking in her time and in Great Britain today. As well as the painted backdrop, setting out the scene that was so inspirational to her writing and on the reverse side the display of the children’s discoveries about Beatrix Potter showing the reach of her many influences.

Plants chosen enhance the theme being in-keeping with those Beatrix Potter might have had in her garden. Some can be found in her books and personal writing. Along with more formal plants that relate to the more formal gardens of the National Trust and bring Beatrix Potter into current times. Also, the vegetable patch not only pays homage to Peter Rabbit but also to Beatrix Potter as she grew her own vegetables too and was a keen, albeit novice, gardener. 

Tudor Grange Academy Worcester, Years 7 – 9, STEM club and students from the Skills Action Service Curriculum

Garden Name: Suspended Innovation.

The garden showcases the work of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, in particular that of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain. To celebrate the durability of his constructions, the garden uses materials that have been used for building or conveying goods.  These are recycled and therefore do not create a negative impact on the environment. The garden captures the grandeur of the bridge, recreating the iconic view down the Avon Gorge, reminding visitors to the garden of its height and place within the landscape.

Plants are native to river areas, hardy and durable, reflecting the nature of Brunel’s work.  Perennials are used to reflect the nature of bridge building across the world which still perpetuate ideas first thought of and used by Brunel.

The students have taken this idea of a natural landscape further by using a self-seeding plant in the form of the forget me not to represent the River Avon.  As the name suggests, we have not forgotten Brunel as his bridges, tunnels and other constructions are still very much in evidence today.