Growing imaginations: a half way review…

As we approach the Christmas holidays and our minds turn to winter colours or reds, greens and golds to inspire our gardens and our homes it is a reflective time of year, we have been doing the same with the Secret Gardeners’ Project. Much planning and digging has taken place, not always in the kindest of climatic conditions!

In beginning of October the participating schools took part in a creative workshop that involved their pitching for the re-purposed objects kindly donated by six of the RSA’s Royal Designers for Industry resulting in the schools receiving the following objects to inspire with gardens and thinking:

  • Church Hill Middle School: umbrellas from Neil Thomas, MBE RDI
  • Ipsley CE RSA Academy: tripod from Kate Blee, RDI and WC from Robin Levien, RDI
  • Holyhead School:model of the Infinity Bridge from Chris Wise, RDI
  • Whitley Academy: shoes from Helen Storey, MBE RDI
  • Arrow Vale RSA Academy: hat/visor from Stephen Jones, OBE RDI

Armed with the knowledge of these objects, their stories, purpose and meaning the students and teachers heard inspiring talks from Helen Storey, Andrew Grant RDI, a landscape architect who spoke about the amazing projects around the world he has been involved in as well as others’ projects he has found inspiring, and Tinashe Mawodza, a PhD student from Sheffield University who spoke about soil science, composting and sustainability. In a melting pot of ideas and inspiration, the students began to develop their thoughts on what their garden might represent for themselves and their school, how it might be designed, what it would look like.

By the end of the Autumn term the schools are at different stage of development with gardens located in central parts of the school where they can be seen by lots of students, teachers and visitors:

  • Church Hill Middle School have had a challenging debris clearing exercise to create space for their garden in a waterlogged courtyard. They’ve done well! They have decorated the umbrellas with ribbons and ivy and the students have created artworks in theme. They will have a new path and strawberries and spring bulbs ready to burst. More ideas still to be brought to fruition too.

  • Ipsley CE RSA Academy have been further inspired by the Eden Project and a ‘textile greenhouse’. Their project is going to focus on learning about water – the water cycle, the concept of virtual water, and ways in which this precious resource can be used and conserved in places where it is scarce.

  • Holyhead School led by Geography and Maths teachers, will be installing the bridge in the new year and have plans to use plants from different countries linked to the different heritages of the students in school (they have the challenge of discovering what can be grown in a UK climate). They have presented to the whole school (Years 7-11) via assemblies over four different days – here’s what they presented. This is a really good way to tell everyone about what they are doing and what will be appearing in the front of the school, and why.

  • Whitley Academy are ambitiously planning to plant a maze and sensory garden linked to their SEND provision at The Base.There are also exciting plans to link to the new Parents’ Forum to engage parents in school activities.

  • Arrow Vale RSA Academy’s Creative Arts Committee have created a mad hatters tea party themed garden with a planted upside down table top and eclectic items hanging from the trees.

We are exploring what the outcomes and learning will have been later in the Spring term. All schools have excitedly risen to the challenge (and the weather!) so there remains much to realise and learn whilst their ideas grow and they start to see their creative results.