Children's gardens impress 'in-bloom' judges
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
YOUNGSTERS from Oakley Cross Primary School have impressed an environmental competition judge with their outstanding gardening skills and knowledge of plants.
The children have completely transformed the outdoor space, with each class adopting an area and maintaining it.
Their effort now forms part of West Auckland’s bid to reclaim gold in the Northumbria-in-Bloom competition.
The village won gold last year in its first year of trying, having previous claimed top honours in the Its Your Neighbourhood competition.
The village and the school were to have been judged together on Wednesday last week, but an outbreak of Covid meant that judging was moved to Friday.
However, a single judge came out on Wednesday specifically to see the school and hear what the children had to say.
Judge Joanna Wood said: “It would have been such a shame for the children to miss out and we thought it would be nice to do the judging with the children still in.
Fittingly each of the classes are named after trees and came up with their own ideas of what they wanted to do with their allocated area and what to plant.
The nursery class created a recycle and reuse garden in which along with pollinating flowers they also grow tomatoes, herbs, strawberries and courgettes which are used in the school kitchen to make lunches.
Rainwater is captured in a large container which is then used to water the gardens.
Another class created a hidden garden, which once fully grown will create an enclosed space where children can find tranquillity.
Headteacher Sian Atkinson said: “The gardens all have links to the curriculum. So, they have taken ideas from books they have read, or like the Oakley Express where the children have been learning about the railways.”
The Oakley Express is a unique set of planters which have been set up to look like a steam engine and its carriages.
The many fruits and vegetables grown in the planters is used by the kitchen.
Elsewhere teacher Kathleen Turner’s class made “Our Enchanted Garden” which takes inspiration from the book A Tiger in the Garden.
Miss Turner said: “It really was a dead, unused space. We have created a little oasis using our story book. It has inspired a lot of the children to do gardening at home.”