Schools Out – at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park (19 – 23 July 2006)

Schools Out – at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park (19 – 23 July 2006)
It’s not quite the summer holidays yet, but already children are enjoying the great outdoors as hundreds of pupils from schools across the region head for the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park (19 – 23 July).

For some their trip to Tatton will give them the opportunity to see the end results of a project they have been working on. For others it will be the chance to see a garden that will become part of their school grounds.  Such is the power of horticulture, that it has also been the catalyst to bring together two merging schools and make links between two schools on opposite sides of the world.

‘Into Africa’ was a project developed for Tatton, but that will have impact much further  afield.  It rediscovers the links between Lord Egerton, once the landowner of the Tatton estate, and his reserve in Kenya through the combined efforts of children from Egerton Primary School in Knutsford and children from Egerton School in Africa (now part of Egerton University).  An educational exchange has seen the two schools celebrate the legacy of Lord Egerton, who in the nineteenth century grew vegetables at Tatton in order to produce seeds that he would take out to Africa for food production.
At Tatton an African school garden is being recreated using a Masai theme, expressed through shields, spears, an African hut and African wicker animals made by Knutsford school children. The planting will include traditional African staples such as maize and tomatoes.
In Salford, Radclyffe Community Primary School and St Clements Primary School are preparing to move to a new shared school in September 2007.  One of the first ways of bringing the children together culturally has been driven through horticulture.  Children from both schools have been working on a show garden, ‘A Healthy Future’, that is being built by the Northwest Regional Development Agency at Tatton and which will go on to form the central feature of the grounds at the new premises.  Promoting healthy lifestyle and ‘five a day’ eating messages, the garden revisits a traditional walled kitchen garden to address issues such as sustainability and biodiversity.                     

Deirdre Walton, Principal Education Officer (Northern) for the Royal Horticultural Society, says, “One of the most important things that the RHS can do is nurture in young people an understanding and love for plants, gardening  and the natural world, as it can bring so many benefits. It’s very exciting to see so many children from across the North West region participating in the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, by getting their hands dirty, having fun and learning too!”

Reaseheath College in Cheshire has taken on the task of working with not one, but eleven schools! All of the plants for ‘The Plot’ have been raised by children from infant and junior schools in Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire so that they could discover for themselves the origins of food and to encourage schools to create their own gardens.  Carol Adams from Reaseheath explains, “We want to use our garden at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park as a platform to demonstrate what could potentially be achieved in primary schools across the country to promote the ‘five a day’ message and a more vocational approach to the national curriculum.”

The plants in ‘The Plot’ show garden will be housed in the Growing Spaces dome, which is not unlike one of the Eden Project domes.  Working off solar panels, reflected heat and insulation means that tropical fruits and plants can be nurtured within the dome.  As an outdoor classroom, history, science, geography, design and technology can all be taught within this one garden.

Students from the Welsh College of Horticulture (supported by Fforwm Tirlun) were set the brief of designing a garden for St Brigid’s School in Denbigh to promote an understanding of plants and to link into national curriculum subjects.  The project gives the opportunity to explore environmental change, sustainable development, life processes and living things in a garden, which pupils from the school have also had the opportunity to help design.  A secret den is one of the wishes that has been granted and the involvement of the children is acknowledged through a copper tree that has their names stamped on the leaves.  After its appearance at Tatton ‘Stepping Forward’ will be rebuilt at the school.

Schools across the region are turning their classrooms and playgrounds into jungles thanks to a project from BBC North West Tonight.  ‘Classroom Jungle’ gives school children the chance to win for their school the garden being created by designer Janine Crimmins and team at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park.  The garden captures the spirit of adventure, allowing children to feel lost amongst over-sized colourful plans set against walls of vivid red and orange.

Continuing the theme of classroom gardens, Cheshire Wildlife Trust is ensuring that its garden goes to a good home after Tatton.  Its ‘Naturally Victorian’ garden has been used as an educational project to help children understand the influence that Victorians had upon our gardening habits.  Over 700 children have entered a competition to have the garden rebuilt in their school grounds.

RHS Schools Membership Scheme

This UK wide scheme is open to all schools and is offered free of charge.   Member schools are sent a newsletter with complimentary seeds each term and a copy of the RHS magazine ‘The Garden’, each month. The newsletter offers ideas on what to do in your school garden and how to bring practical gardening and plant science to life for children. Registered schools are also able to take advantage of the schools members ‘Seed Distribution Scheme’, free horticultural advice from the RHS, and a discount on Continuing Professional Development days.  All the schools taking part in Tatton this year will be encouraged to join, if they haven’t already.
For details of the Schools Membership Scheme please visit the RHS website or call Tel: 01483 224234 and ask for Curricular Education.

For tickets to the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park call the ticket hotline on 0870 906 3811 (public) or 0870 906 3810 (RHS members).  For further show information and online booking visit

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