Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Best days of your Life!

I guess anyone of my generation who goes into a modern school will be amazed at how they have changed - such modern vibrant places full of colour and stimulation. Over the two weeks I judged East Midlands in Bloom, we visited a number of schools and I was almost without fail, impressed with the way in which horticulture and environmental issues were being taught and fully integrated into the curriculum. It wasn't just an add-on or option but an essential part of the school life.  To start with some cracking examples in case you don't read on! Sorry limited captions as the results of Bloom judging are yet to be announced.

Alice in Wonderland's garden

When I was a child I recall my junior school having small garden plots but these being grassed over before I ever got to grow anything. My secondary school was a traditional (dare I say it snobby) grammar school and horticulture really didn't feature. We did grow some broad bean seedlings in botany and the art master had busy lizzies and red geraniums on the windowsill but just for us to draw. When finally as a failed A level student,  I announced I wanted to take up horticulture for a career, there was shock and horror. The school attempted to dissuade me and did nothing to help me pursue this! Some of the following pictures show deserted gardens but as no doubt you will be aware taking pictures of kids without parental permission is a distinct 'No no!' However we did meet many kids at the schools and were always bowled over by their interest and enthusiasm.

A flower loom

How very different it is now. Schools, right through from nursery to secondary have gardens and encourage pupils to become involved. Many also have after school garden clubs. There are flower gardens, vegetable plots, orchards and fruit bushes. Some even have chickens or rabbits. Children are encouraged to grow, cook and eat. As well as this there are wildlife areas with ponds, meadows, bird boxes, bug hotels and bird hides. At one school each classroom had a huge rack of colourful Wellington boots as it was essential that the children should be able to go outside regardless of the weather. Makes me want to go back to school again!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bloom - Episode 2

The second week of judging and the weather stayed dry for all but Friday morning when we got wet!  Not bad for a British summer. Lots more driving up into Derbyshire and east to Lincolnshire - Wainright eat your heart out! Now recovering having driven 699 miles over the last two weeks,  shaken hundreds of hands, posed for the press on 12 occasions, given three radio interviews, eaten 12 buffet lunches and tried to smile on all occasions! It was a little like a roller coaster ride!  Once again a few more pictures of the highlights.

The town choir welcomes us at Belper

Buxton allotment

Baskets at Buxton

Well co-ordinated front garden in Buxton

Beautiful pub garden in Ilkeston

Barrier boxes in Ilkeston

Tiny back garden in Ilkeston
Well dressing in Belper

My namesake in Belper!
School garden Boston

Peace Garden in Buxton

Retirement Homes in Buxton

Gainsborough Old Hall

Herbaceous border in Ilkeston

The town crier announces us in Belper

Sculpture in Ilkeston
Memorial gardens in Boston

Boots at a Boston school - every child has them!

Boston West Academy

Tree sculpture in Buxton
Tussy Mussies made for us in Gainsborough

Wonderful annual meadow in Gainsborough

Baskets in Spalding

Colourful pub garden in Spalding
Once again , we've seen the good, bad and indifferent of British towns,  although I have to say there has been very little bad and a lot of good. Indifferent really doesn't feature, as all the towns we've visited have been full of  people passionate about their local community and environment. We've met some wonderful people, seen some great gardens and beautiful flowers and been amused on a number of occasions. Now these poor guys have to wait till September to find out what award we have given them!