Two schools cultivate winning ways

December 19 2017
Two schools cultivate winning ways

Fairfield High School and Redmaids’ High School both won awards at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Green Plan It Challenge for Wales and the South West of England region.

Fairfield High School and Redmaids’ High School both won awards at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Green Plan It Challenge for Wales and the South West of England region.

The ten-week challenge saw over a hundred green-fingered 12-14 year-olds tasked with developing a design for a new school or community garden, working alongside professional garden designers, landscape architects and other horticultural industry insiders.

The group of students, presented their imaginative 3D designs for a new conservation garden for judging at Bristol Botanic Garden on December 7, competing against teams from seven other schools across the region. The assessors included Danny Nagle of Grant Associates (the landscape architects behind Gardens by the Bay in Singapore), Emma McNamara, a horticultural adviser for the National Trust and Wendy Desyllas from Bristol Aquarium.

Led by students, the challenge encouraged pupils to consider the benefits of communal green spaces and explore environmental issues while developing leadership, teamwork and creative skills. The winning garden was designed by a team-of-six from Y Pant School in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Fairfield High School team ‘The Secret Potters’ were joint winners of the pupils’ choice award for their Muller Road garden design.

The team from Year 8 designed a ‘mysterious maze’ with five sections: the calm area, the edible zone, the playground, the café and, in the centre, a fountain. The whole garden has an ‘eco’ theme and uses plants suitable for pollinators and recycled materials. It is a space which everyone can go to, is easily accessible and is a place where you can go time and again to discover and find a place to spend time, regardless of your mood. 

With the help of industry mentors; Andy Winfield, gardener from Bristol Botanic gardens, and Clare Billany, landscape architect from Stride Treglown, the Secret Potters researched and planned an hypothetical garden on the wasteland that used to be the Ford Garage on Muller Road. 

Apart from the glass trophy which will take its place in Fairfield’s bulging Trophy Cabinet, the team consisting of Alice Adams, Alfred Emmott, Eleanor Curtis, Lillibeth Murdoch, Ivy Hallett and Emma Elliot, now also have the task of choosing which plants to buy for the school garden with the £100 RHS Garden vouchers awarded to them.

Scott Mears, science teacher commented: “What dedication our students have demonstrated to this hypothetical garden; I have witnessed them working tirelessly for almost three months to develop the concept, write a report and design a model of the garden. 

“The vouchers they have been awarded for the school mean the world to them and I can see glowing future careers in the horticultural world for each and every one of the winning team!”

Redmaids’ High School team ‘The Red Squirrels’ won the prize for best teamwork for the outstanding way they’d worked together over the project.

The team designed a family friendly garden which is accessible, a home for wildlife, and a calming, sensory place where nature thrives. They hope to attract the community and encourage everyone to go outside more. It has a Japanese Zen theme, and lots of pale, calming plants as well as a pagoda viewing hut. 

The site that the students had in mind when working on their garden design was Quarry Park, close to Southmead and Henleaze. The team’s industry mentors were Anne Sharp, who runs Anne Sharp Garden Designs and Lucy Watson, who runs a gardening business called Artistic Gardens.

Speaking about the project, RHS Head of Community Outreach, Andrea Van-Sittart said: “The Green Plan It Challenge is designed to support young people to develop a host of new skills including teamwork, creativity and problem-solving, and, we hope to inspire some future Alan Titchmarsh’s and Monty Don’s.

“We’d love to see some of these gardens come to fruition as we set about greening our grey Britain.”