Our aim was to increase whole school involvement with the garden as well as having a Gardening Club and to establish clear links to the curriculum under the direction of the science lead.

Also very important to us was that we recycled and upcycled materials that were freely given to us. This included many wooden pallets which you can see we have used extensively throughout our projects

The young gardeners at Brabourne CEP School have taken a neglected garden and created a pleasant space for pupils and staff to enjoy. It now includes a sensory area with bulbs and perennials providing all year round flowers for pollinators as well as several homemade raised beds and troughs growing a selection of vegetables, fruit and salad crops to provide fresh food for the school kitchen.

To increase the biodiversity of the garden they have sown two areas with wild flower seeds, created log piles, built and positioned 2 bughouses, provided drinking stations for bees and hung up bee hotels made using bamboo cut to fit plastic bottles with the top and bottom cut out.

Gardening Projects:

The Gravel garden

Last summer members of the local Gardening Society helped the school gardeners to create a Gravel Garden. The aim was to increase biodiversity in the area as the plants used in gravel gardens attract pollinators including native bees, butterflies and birds. Also it is hoped that a gravel garden will encourage lizards and butterflies to bask on the sunny side of any rockery and Hunting Spiders to use any open space to catch prey.

A large Yew tree sited in a sunny area was removed leaving an area approx. 5ftx 5ft with a hard edge around the perimeter and good soil drainage.

Recycled chip gravel was then spread to a thickness of approx. 2inches. As every piece of gravel will be relatively the same size it should remain loose and never pack tight.

The border was critical because research showed that the gravel needs to be kept at a consistent depth throughout the plot, right up to the edges. If it tapers off at the edges, weeds will find their way in. All herbaceous vegetation and loose soil was removed and a landscape fabric was laid over the area designated and dug deeper for a small pool but nowhere else as the gardeners wanted their plants to be able to self-seed.

Small drought-tolerant plants such as lavender, sedums, euphorbias, Cistus and Santolina were planted. These will provide plenty of nectar and pollen for visiting insects. In the centre a small pond was made using landscape fabric and a number of rocks were placed in the pond area and between the plants on the gravel. The pond should attract amphibians and the rocks will provide basking areas for reptiles.

A pile of rocks covered with soil will make a reptile and amphibian hibernaculum.

The children have watched the plants mature and the gravel garden has been admired by parents and visitors. More importantly a safe haven for wildlife.

Plans for this year include planting flowers which release their scent in the evening, therefore attracting bats. Further research by the young gardeners helped to make a bat box out of recycled pallets which has been suitably sited.

Our Greenhouse project

The gift of a greenhouse from a parent enabled pupils to find out and describe how plants need water, light and a suitable temperature to grow.

The proposed site allocated for the recycled/re-homed greenhouse (the Box hedging was removed and recycled in another garden).

A water butt was installed to harvest the rain water for use in the greenhouse. The greenhouse is now equipped ready for all children in the school to use.

The young gardeners have been able to sow seeds and grow-on a wide range of more tender crops. We only use cardboard tubes and newspaper pots that the children make, to plant seeds in. This reduces our plastic footprint.

Since developing the garden it has been frequently used by staff and children for observing mini beasts looking at the spring flowers and drawing the flowers. The head teacher sits at break time with readers and the school cook is using the produce.

Parents are also appreciative of the ability to use the garden space to enjoy nature.

Fruit tree project

With donations from parents and The Tree Council, we planted up our garden and field with a variety of fruit trees. The aim this year is to create an orchard and wildflower meadow on our school field and eventually harvest the fruit to create jams for our farm shop to plough profits back into new Eco projects and, most importantly, attract insects and increased biodiversity.

Look at the picture of our garden’s transformation – from brambled wasteland to thriving allotment, educational area and wildlife sanctuary!