Earlier this week we spent an exciting morning with some of the lovely pupils at Bainbridge Church of England Primary School and award-winning garden designer Chris Myers. The youngsters, aged 7-9, have very kindly agreed to help us plan and design a mini ‘Pocket Garden’ full of spring wildflowers native to the Yorkshire Dales to display at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show in April.
Together we aim to create a riot of colour and texture in a plot just one metre square. Despite the small scale, we are aiming big and hope to distil the essence of beautiful spring wildflower habitats into this miniature garden.
Tanya St. Pierre, Flowers of the Dales Project Officer at YDMT, taught the children about the incredible variety of common, not-so-common and rare wildflowers that can be found in the Dales in springtime in habitats ranging from ancient woodlands to species-rich hay meadows, and the insects and animals that depend on them.
The children were then set the task of choosing their nine favourite species which will form the basis of the Pocket Garden. Once the votes were in Chris Myers presented the ‘Plant Oscars’!
And the winner is…!
Leading by a country mile, the most popular plants as chosen by the pupils of Bainbridge Primary School were: Lily of the Valley, Lords and Ladies and Bluebell in the woodland habitat; White Deadnettle, Field Forget-me-not and Cuckoo flower from the grassland habitat; and Coltsfoot, Wild Strawberry and Bugle in the adaptable species category.
The children considered factors including colour, height and foliage when choosing their favourite species, with many also voting for species special to the Yorkshire Dales like Lily of the Valley.
More unusual reasons for voting included the gruesome insect-eating habit of Lords and Ladies, the tasty edible fruits produced by Wild Strawberries, the exotic look of White Deadnettle. The colour and texture of Coltsfoot made it a winner, reminding one child of a furry bumblebee and another of a lion’s mane!
Having selected the key plant species that will feature in the spring garden, the children received some expert tips on garden design from Chris Myers, and are now developing their own design ideas for the plot from which Chris will choose a final design.
Tanya said: “We’re really excited to be working with Chris and the teachers and pupils at Bainbridge Primary School on this project. As well as being beautiful to look at, wildflowers provide nectar and pollen for threatened bumblebees and other pollinators right through from spring to autumn, so they provide enormous wildlife benefits.”
David Moore, Assistant Headteacher at Bainbridge Primary School, commented: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn about the wildflowers that are around them and see their designs and ideas come to fruition for display at a highly prestigious public event.”
Chris Myers said: “We are so lucky to have the Dales as our backyard. The wildflowers found there constantly wow me and are such an important part of this stunning environment. I’m so pleased to be involved with the YDMT pocket garden, supporting the natural beauty we all love and helping the kids of Bainbridge School learn about and celebrate the flowers of the Dales.”