This evening as night fell, these 5 giants of Gardening Club paused momentarily, and then posed against a backdrop of Yorkshire stone in the school Quadrangle. Storm Caroline billowed overhead as, with filthy finger nails, we finished 3 weeks of planting over 500 bulbs ready for spring, shipped over to school from Holland by Bulbs4Kids.
Our aim is to brighten up the school campus this spring, learn about the origins of Dutch horticulture and celebrate the arrival on site of our amazing sculpture (pictured) designed by Year 6 pupils (2016-17). Tulips originate from Turkey, and the descriptive word 'tulip' translates as 'turban'.
At his visit earlier in the year, Chris Collins (Blue Peter Head Gardener) said 'every garden should have a focus that draws you in'. This sculpture, designed here and created in partnership with The Hepworth Museum of the Year 2017, unveiled at the Hepworth's Play Day Exhibition event in August 2017, is on show in school before it is located in the Early Years Foundation Stage play area.
Club members considered it's attributes, commenting that it continues to help our leaning. Baffled, seeking clarification, Mr Dore asked members to explain. "Gardeners are famous for leaning, usually on garden spades and forks. A sculpture is something else to lean on". Enlightened, our last session this side of the winter solstice concluded, beneath the darkening sky.
Sandal Castle in Partnership with Sandal Community Association
Our children were asked to take part in the official planting of the living Christmas Tree on Barnsley Road. Cllr Monica Graham explained that this was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a moment they will always remember; planting a Christmas tree that the community will have benefit of for many years to come.
As a reward for working so hard in the run up to the Key Stage 2 tests and the test particularly, the Year 6 children experienced a Den Building competition led by Chris Harman. Each class built a den that needed to be water proof and withstand the elements. The most successful den builders were rewarded with a fantastic campfire.
Mr Dore worked his green-fingered magic in our EYFS outdoor provision - just look how beautiful it is!
These are our three entries for the Wakefield Schools in Bloom competition, hosted by Shanks Waste Management and Wakefield Council.
Entry 1: This entry by Eddie (Yr6) is entitled 'Eddie's Home Grown Lunch Bag'. The handles are broken, the stuffing is falling out and its yellow skin is torn - ordinarily, destination landfill. Here, his inventive enthusiasm is tangible - he's a joyous learner.
Eddie engages the judges (and all of us) by asking: 'What's on the menu?' and informs us that the following tasty, nutritious produce is growing: Carrot, Rocket, Radish and Purple Broccoli.
Eddie's living 'lunch bag' sculpture says to me: "You can have a bagged lunch now 'to go' made with ingredients of your choosing, but be prepared to watch, water, nurture, protect and wait for the good food to grow. Question: what do I really hunger for? Further question: what am I going to have for lunch Eddie?".
Entry 2: This entry by Timmy (Yr4) is entitled 'Cool Flower Bag'.
Timmy recycles a cool bag creating a flower garden. A portable place of peace - a pruned piece of paradise - for pollinators and budding gardening enthusiasts alike. The flower is Calendula (Calendula officinalis) also called Marigold - a vibrant, vigorous edible flower. To have created this soft-topped, aerated hangout for chilling - question: "how cool is Timmy?".
Entry 3: This entry is by Ben (Yr6) entitled 'In memory of Grumps'.
Ben's Grandpa (affectionately 'Grumps') died recently. Ben's living memorial is stirringly evocative by recycling his Grandpa's gardening crocs, he helps each of us reflect on the precious time we have spent in the company of loved ones who know how to nurture us, inside and out. By planting flowers in crocs, each of the thousands of footsteps they have taken can be celebrated and new life (Ben's life) grow.
Do I have a favourite? All have creatively planted 'at greater depth'. For this competition and in life (2 years in Gardening After School Club), it's our Eddie's (arguably iconic) horticultural response to the dietary, health and environmental issues facing his contemporaries. Evidence for us, visitors and inspectors of the 'sleeves rolled up' approach here, in part inspired by Blooms!
All exhibits are up in Year 6, all photos in our outdoor learning folder, and we await the outcome of the competition with interest.
The Gardening Club showcase at the Summer Fair
Home Grown Produce at the Summer Fair
Main display/sale items included:
Potatoes & Broad Beans
Free Wild Flower seeds, Big Butterfly Count posters & recycling stickers
Cerynthe Purple Pollinator flowers
Purple sprouting broccoli plants
Carrot & Pea plants
A Wishing Well
A wave tank
Willow & Bamboo Nimbus 2017 Broom Sticks
Wasp Nest (vacated - a brittle regurgitated plant/wood material)
2017 Gardening Club Graduation
After weeks of lying in wait, school authorities completed and published their findings from a thorough investigation into how this year's graduates from Gardening Club left the building and travelled home. School CCTV had to be slowed down and a forensic examination of smartphone footage after a public appeal, revealed these wizards of the outdoors at their craft.
Authorities acted on a tip off following the summer fair, when 3 Nimbus 2017s were sold for an undisclosed price along with a bat-box and 4 chunks of wasp nest. Investigators closed in as willow, bamboo canes and green ribbon were illusively assembled in a dingy, cobwebbed corner of the school.
From 3pm on Thursday 13th July, these high fliers cleaned up at the Gardening Club's awards ceremony, bristled with enthusiasm before sweeping from the building with their state-of-the-darkish-art broomsticks, just before 4pm. Their hearts were in their mouths as Mrs Howley strode from the reception moments after they had lined up outside the Headteacher's office window. However, she turned to talk to a parent (perhaps about spellings...?) and thankfully, remained obliviously deep in conversation.
Photographs taken moments after children were dismissed from school (see attached) prove that this group have rarely had their feet firmly on the ground. Their leadership are undergoing questioning using the latest Brooms techniques, but as yet, very little new has been learned.
A full report to Governors is expected to cause uproar, singing and actions (using sign language) that will have to be recorded for the next meeting of the Ministry (aka Rupert and Sally).
Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins visits Sandal Castle Primary School
What a lovely afternoon in the company of Chris Collins (Blue Peter gardener for 10 years) - he is 'salt o the earth' & gardening royalty! He has worked at Westminster Abbey and Kew, and done all the big shows.
Chris gave an enriching in-depth lesson and planting master-class, laced with top-tips, easy to learn natural science, nutritional plant chemistry & some Latin! The children were guided step-by-step through 'tamping', 'dibbing' and sowing, before setting bedding plants into a hanging basket. Chris taught key principles for understanding and achieving great growth - with some memorable nicknames for fertilizers!
We finished by planting blue native British Wild Flowers (Forget-me-nots) amidst the falling snow and hail stones! It hasn't rained for 2 months - typical! The flowers were kindly donated by Roger Parkinson (Rose Garden Nursery, Thornes Park), where he works with adults with learning difficulties.
Have a look at the pictures of our fabulous afternoon!
We are delighted to announce that Miss Lavers is embarking upon becoming a Level 3 Forest School accredited leader. This will be supported by Mr Goddard who will be completing the Level 1 accreditation. We are looking forward to having our very own Forest School here at Sandal Castle Primary and are excited about the further opportunities this will provide for our children and environment.
Northern Gas Award for Growing and Planting
An Autumn update from Mr Dore:
We have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to make links with the Northern Gas Networks. We can't thank the team enough for the invaluable contribution made to upgrading the growing space here in school. The Northern Gas crew were marvellous from the off and went about their work methodically, understanding the aims and objectives of our gardening club, healthy living and forest school projects!! They manually assisted a very large 4'' frog into new digs higher up the garden and re-discovered a missing potato crop!
We are showing off the new growing area in school, and gearing up groups of children to plant the (nitrogen-fixing) broad beans and Clover (green manure) this week and next, to boost soil nutrition and over-winter the bean crop for harvest of produce in time for the summer fayre! Whatever we can do to continue to improve the new layer of growing soil humus - adding some homemade compost, leaf mulch and manures will be a boost.
Phase 2 of the project (Irrigation) received the 'go-ahead' nod from our neighbour during the course of the morning session, and in the afternoon the wild flower project received a boost when it became clear that the mini-digger tracks alongside the growing area would help our Kew Gardens Wild Flower project get established in the coming months too! We can now press on with an autumnal sowing of these seeds which stand a better chance of getting their delicate root systems established and a good drink! Another great spin off is the plant debris (mainly grass & ivy) which may well shelter wildlife over the coming winter and rot down over time improving soil structure. A young hedgehog has been spotted frequenting the school playing fields recently and fox dung is often found beside the as yet unused chicken run & hutch.
As you can see, a whole plethora of benefits, with plenty of grass remaining for butterflies, pollinators and other insects, come the summer.
Thank you to Northern Gas Network for gifting the award pictured above.
Come and see how we use our school environment to enhance our curriculum and further our learning opportunities in school
In recognition of the quality of our Outdoor Learning Provision, our school has been awarded the runner up prize in the 'Stewart Garden Schools Programme 2016'
The Judges witnessed our children's passion for gardening and growing vegetables and have awarded them £100 to spend at our local garden centre.
Our Year 1 children have been Den Building with Chris Harmon from Leeds College of Art, using different materials and their brilliant imaginations to create extraordinary shelters.