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!

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