07 Dec Secret Garden Update
About a year ago, a team of Ipsley pupils attended the launch of an intriguing new RSA project: the Secret Garden. We listened to some fascinating designers talk about their work, including Helen Storey (who talked about the dress she made out of a tent from a refugee camp and the film that she made about the dress, using it to draw our attention to some of the urgent issues that humanity needs to address, such as climate change and the mass displacement of people) and Andrew Grant (who led the team that designed the amazing Gardens by the Bay in Singapore).
Both Andrew Grant and Professor Storey are RDIs (Royal Designers for Industry – a title awarded by the RSA to the most innovative and distinguished British designers from a wide range of fields). Georgina Chatfield from the RSA and Caroline Coates from the Helen Storey Foundation organised the donation of objects that had been donated from other RDIs that could be repurposed in the design of a Secret Garden at each of the RSA schools in order to transform a small, neglected space and we were given a tripod designed by Kate Blee, RDI and a toilet that has a unique, more hygienic design and flushing system designed by Robin Levien, RDI.
Our team of pupils set to work, designing a garden on a (very!) tight budget that would incorporate our designer items and which was as sustainable as possible. We polished up our persuasive writing skills and wrote to local companies for any assistance that they could offer and in the course of our investigations, made contact with Reiner and Sue Rockel because we were interested in Reiner’s display at the Eden Project that used textiles made from things like glass and basalt to cover greenhouse frames. These textiles used capillary action to wick moisture from the atmosphere that could be used to grow crops in arid climates. We loved Reiner’s ideas for sustainability and invited him to come and talk to us and show us how he made his textiles (which we wrote about in a previous article).
Reiner kindly donated one of his model greenhouses to us for our garden, so our design evolved into a ‘wet and dry’ theme, with a bog garden in the toilet (fed by rainwater via the tripod) and a dry garden under the greenhouse, with some succulents and a tomato experiment. Another donation of some used tyres for containers linked the two parts of the garden with an assortment of other flowers.
Then the hard work started – building the garden! This took us quite a while and everything had to go into a container of some description as the ground was full of tree roots and rubble. As soon as we had finished planting it, the heatwave arrived and Mrs Chadwick’s class watered it valiantly once (or even twice) a day at its peak. We were a little worried about how it would survive over the summer, but as it rained almost every day, it survived without our watering team and we are now back at school, tending it for the winter.
We transformed this…
We are keen to add to our garden and fill the remaining space so if anyone has any suitable containers that we can recycle, bags (or part bags) of compost, spare bulbs or plants, they would be very gratefully received. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and mark it for the attention of Mrs Chadwick to arrange collection or delivery.
We are extremely grateful to everyone who donated materials and gave their help and advice. They are, in alphabetical order:
- Arnott and Mason (Katie and Martin) at New Covent Garden Market for plants.
- ATS Tyres in Evesham for the tyres.
- Miss Beech, our Principal, for seeds.
- Kate Blee RDI and Robin Levien RDI for donating the objects that inspired the garden.
- Mike Chalk from the DT department who fixed the struts on the tripod in order to hang our insect hotels up.
- Blue Diamond Garden Centre in Evesham (Mr Mould) for compost.
- Demontfort Veterinary Surgery in Evesham (Lisa Simpson) for an Elizabethan collar to funnel rainwater.
- Mr Howells and Mr Irving-Phillips who didn’t get cross when Mr Chadwick arrived with 20 tyres to store somewhere.
- Riverside Bulbs in Suffolk (Matthew and Imogen Long) for bulbs.
- Reiner and Sue Rockel for the model greenhouse, the workshop and lots of ideas and enthusiasm.
- Helen Storey for seeds and inspiration at the project launch.
- Webbs of Wychbold for water plants and containers
- Philip Wilson from the Prayer Room team who visit us on Thursday lunch times for the sunflowers
- all of 5MC who did the watering last summer term
and of course Georgina Chatfield from the RSA and Caroline Coates from the Helen Storey Foundation, who dreamt the whole thing up in the first place. We have had a lot of fun over the last year and we have certainly cheered up this corner of our school!
– Mrs Chadwick and the Secret Gardeners