Lancashire Life Garden of the Year 2014 competition - the winners revealed
PUBLISHED: 16:28 20 December 2014
With a number of gardening accolades already under their belts, Holmeswood Methodist Primary can now add the title of Lancashire Life School Garden of the Year
Children at Holmeswood Methodist Primary had just one complaint when they moved into their new school hall in 2009. The inside was great – but the surrounding grounds were little more than a building site.
Determined to transform it into an outstanding garden the children could enjoy and be proud of, the community of Holmeswood at Rufford in West Lancashire came together and have worked relentlessly over the past four years.
Lead gardening club co-ordinator, teaching assistant Heather Prescott, said 80 per cent of pupils are now part of the gardening club and it is this dedication that has earned them the title of Lancashire Life School Garden of the Year.
The competition is Sponsored by former BBC Young Gardener of the Year John Foley, who runs the successful Holden Clough Nursery in Bowland. Thanks to him, the primary school has been awarded £750 to spend on their garden and they already have some bright ideas.
‘They would love to have a trampoline embedded in the ground among the plants,’ laughed Heather. ‘They have also suggested planting their own maze using tall plants. They never run out of fun ideas.’
John said that it was great to see the whole school involved in the project. ‘There is a good range of gardening going on here, from sustainable to environmental. Holmeswood have done everything from scratch themselves, it shows dedication and that’s why they are deserved winners.
‘Some pupils have even worked in half term. This is not just a lesson, they actually enjoy taking part and that’s great to see.’
Although the students have ambitious dreams for their school garden, such as a swimming pool, they have already achieved so much since establishing their gardening club four years ago. From a wildlife area, complete with shelters for birds and hedgehogs, to a homemade bog garden, where pupils were excited to see tadpoles emerge for the first time, this is not your average primary school garden.
A standout section is their growing area, where a grant from West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Service provided them with raised beds and donations of seeds and plants from parents and local farmers have seen pupils growing a range of produce to cook in their school dinners and sell any surplus on to the community. Combining enterprise with the environment, pupils seem to be learning a lot at Holmeswood.
‘Before we started the gardening club, I was concerned that the children didn’t know where milk and vegetables came from,’ said Heather, who has worked at the school for four years. ‘Some pupils actually believed it just came from the supermarket shelves. This really pushed us to get funding to begin the project.’
The majority of the garden has been achieved from fundraising or donations from parents, such as the benches, garden gates and tyre plant pots. Next year the school is even considering opening the grounds and being entered into the National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book.
‘The pupils have had such a great couple of years achieving things for the garden. In 2013 we entered the Morrison’s Let’s Grow competition and one pupil won the accolade of Young Gardener of the Year for her innovative garden design,’ said Heather. As a result, they bought themselves a new shed.
Pupils have also represented Holmeswood at the West Lancashire Council Voluntary Service’s ‘Show What You Grow’ event for the past two years, and each time won the Best Produce Display gold award.
‘All of the children work so hard in the gardening club so it is great for them to achieve everything they have,’ said Relph Higson, head teacher at Holmeswood Methodist Primary School. ‘I am absolutely delighted, as are the staff and parents. It has developed from nothing more than a building site to achieving something and creating another aspect of our garden.’