Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Gardens » Outdoor Classroom
Staff from this school in Slough had seen our show garden, "Sustainability Can Be Sexy", at the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2008 and had been impressed by many of its features.
Staff from the school had seen our show garden, "Sustainability Can Be Sexy", at the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2008 and had been impressed by many of its features.
They had an unused lawn area next to one of their playgrounds that they wanted to turn into an exciting learning space for the children with opportunities to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs for use in both their cookery lessons and in the school kitchen.
For this design we had a 3D image created so that the school could see the effect of the pergola with the planted, raised beds
A large octagonal pergola with built-in benches was constructed as a pleasant outdoor ‘classroom’ with scented climbers providing shade.
Radiating off from this, new sleeper raised beds were built in which the children can experience the thrill of growing and nurturing their own produce.
Sparkling crushed, recycled glass set in resin surrounds these forming colourful pathways.
Beyond this there is a wildlife garden with a dipping pond, a waterfall, a bog garden and a log pile, providing varied habitats for many different mini-beasts and scope for fascinating wildlife study.
The planting scheme provides stimulation for all five senses, with bright, colourful flowers, pleasant scents from herbs and flowers, sound, both of water, and the breeze through bamboos and grasses, and touch, with different foliage textures and forms. They will of course be eating the fruit and vegetables they produce too. The new garden is a fantastic asset to the school and will be enjoyed by hundreds of children for years to come.
Update from the school:
In April the “Outdoor Classroom” was finished and Floral and Hardy handed over the completed garden to the school. The teachers had now become involved; all classes from years 3 to year 6 chose a raised bed each and the gardening club commenced at lunchtimes. This was the time when I could hand it over to the teaching staff as it was primarily for the children as an outdoor learning environment.
Each class designed the planting of their raised bed and planting took place. The children are now involved in keeping the whole garden tidy and bird boxes have been put up on the uprights of the pergola for the birds to get used to ready for nesting time next spring. The toadstool table and chairs complete the garden. A low wrought iron fence has been constructed as a demarcation to separate the garden from the playground but leaving the entrance to the pergola open.
The gardening club was established and two of our teachers run this regularly with the children. The enthusiasm of these staff has passed onto the children and they have become very keen and interested in their project and are learning about growing vegetables and flowers.
They have become very excited about their harvest and the produce, some of which they have successfully sold to the parents. They have nearly made sufficient funds to pay for next year’s seeds. They have had so much lettuce that some has been used at lunchtime in the salads served in the dining room.
Initially we had an Inset session to introduce the garden to the teachers and allocate the raised beds to each KS2 class. They were given a yearly planner with information of what to plant throughout the growing season.
The pergola with the seating was quickly put into use as an outside classroom; teachers regularly use it for circle time and poetry reading.
Maths lessons have been taken outside and the children have seen the geometrical shapes and copied them onto their own small white boards.
Science lessons have been taken outside and the sun shadows made by the pergola were used in the lessons by measuring the changes at regular intervals..
A year 3 class made bread using the weighing and measuring skills they had learnt in the classroom. They picked the herbs, parsley and chives which they had grown in their plot and used them to make herb butter which they then ate with the bread.
The children have also enjoyed dancing in the pergola area and the area by the waterfall has been used for relaxation, away from other noise.
The children help with re-cycling by emptying the shredding machine and putting the paper shreddings in the compost along with waste from the vegetable garden. In time they will see the fruits of their labours when they can use the compost to enhance soil in their raised beds; this giving another lesson in science.
I have enjoyed working on this project during this past year and in such a short space of time I feel we have made great progress. I am so pleased that this area at the back of the school is now such an attractive and productive place for the children to enjoy. My thanks also goes to our site staff who have enthusiastically joined in the work of this project.
I hope that in time the children will all gain from the gardening experience and have a better knowledge about growing of food and the science of growing as well. They will be able to write about their experiences and maths can be used in calculating and measuring their plots and seed spacing etc. and whilst enjoying themselves, learn some lifelong skills.
I have enrolled the school as a member of the RHS and I hope that other members of staff will visit their website to gain further ideas to help the children.
The Children's Comments:
We are all proud of our garden and how beautiful it has become over the last few months. We are proud to have been able to work in this garden and it has been fun to have lessons outside.
When we came back from the summer holidays we were overjoyed to see how big the pumpkins and courgettes (now marrows) had become.
The sunflowers are now massive and we have so many runner beans we are selling them twice a week!
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