Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sharing my garden with school children

Today was very unusual for me. My groups werenot a horticultural society, or flower arranging club as is so often the case. No, today my groups were Year 5 and 6 school children from nearby Lincroft School in Oakley (a middle school) which is quite simply one of the best in the county. Such enthusiasm for life, such eagerness to learn, and so creative.

The first group were here on a science outing, looking at the garden to understand how the plants reproduce. Well we normally think about insects don't we...bees and moths etc and we saw plenty of bees supping on foxgloves and honeysuckle. But as it happens, four crack willows on our western boundary are shedding their seed at the moment in clouds of cotton like balls, so that they are spread 'down wind' for 300-500 metres, may be more. Then there are animals and humans, one and the same thing maybe for whenever I pull all the foget me nots out at this time of year I always come away with seed all over my jumper. The same with goose grass seeds!

But one of the most memorable sights that day were the peony seedheads, pregnant and swelling, but still with their red styles intact. The peony concerned was Scarlet o'Hara, one of the best! My thanks to Russell Kearsley for this photograph.

The morning ended with the children drawing lots of seedheads and there were such interesting shapes...peonies (with pink styles attached as shown), honesty, alliums (with tiny white styles attached), foxgloves with long styles, aquilegias, cranesbills etc etc.

In the afternoon another class came with their dance teacher. She asked them to look at shapes in the garden, colours, movement etc and before we knew it the children had identified all sorts of fantastic ideas which were to be the core of a dance they are to perform to the rest of the school. A Boogie Woogie terrace dance floor based on Mondrians famous painting was certainly fertile ground. 'S' in the French garden, 'Z' in the sunken pit, 'V' in the walnut tree were also much discussed....I wonder how they will interpret it all.

So if you ever want to see a garden through 'new' eyes, just look at it with a child. Quite simply my garden will never be the same again. What a wonderful day!