Former BBC Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins will nurture the next generation of gardening talent at this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival. Chris returns to the spectacular gardening event for his fourth year as Champion of the award-winning School Gardens Challenge. Aspiring young gardeners from across the country are preparing to bring to life their show garden designs at the event with thirteen schools taking part in this unique area of the show.
Jane Furze, Head of RHS Malvern Spring Festival, said: “The School Gardens Challenge has become one of our highlights at RHS Malvern Spring Festival. We’re continuously blown away by the originality of the designs and it’s a great place to see the next generation of gardeners showcase their green fingered creativity. Everything that visitors see the children have created themselves, from the initial design, to growing the plants and finally building the gardens, it’s an immense achievement. We’re so pleased to be welcoming Chris back to champion the challenge as it’s a real joy to see the pupils blossom under his mentoring, he’s always so incredibly enthusiastic and nurturing, we’ve very pleased to have him. This year we celebrate eleven wonderful years of working with BAM Construction and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for supporting the School Gardens Challenge.”
This year’s School Garden theme is ‘Space’, which celebrates the 350th anniversary of Isaac Newton’s ground-breaking discovery of gravity, alongside the 60th anniversary of the launch of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik. A total of thirteen schools will take part including:
Pupils of Abberley Hall School in Worcestershire based their garden ‘The Abberley Space Rocket’ on an idea from a book written about their school clock tower, showcasing how it might look in a futuristic city on a new planet.
‘Living on another planet’ is the theme from Malvern Wells C of E Primary School referencing the transport to the planet with a lunar lander, accommodation on the planet with a geodesic dome and food represented by a section of raised planting.
Ashton Keynes C of E Primary School in Wiltshire have taken inspiration from the garden in the film Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Day Out, creating structural elements from recycled materials to showcase ‘Team AK’s Grand Day Out’, while the garden designed by Beoley First School in Redditch, ‘OBeoley-Wan Kenobi’, conveys Star Wars in space.
The garden from Bredon School in Tewkesbury is an interpretation of ‘Possible life in Space’, which has inspired the choice of some unusual looking plants sourced and dug from the school woods to create their design ‘Is there Anybody Out There?’ while ‘It’s out of this world’ by Bromsgrove Preparatory School in Worcestershire have created a garden which gives a visual representation of the solar system, incorporating some of the key aspects of space exploration and discovery.
The Ridge Academy in Cheltenham, Cradley C of E Primary School in Herefordshire and Franche Community Primary School in Kidderminster have all chosen Mars as the setting for their garden while ‘The Galaxy Garden’ from Heathfield School & Day Nursery in Kidderminster, represents a journey through space from one corner of the garden to the other in search of a new planet.
RGS Worcester have taken inspiration and design elements relating to the Solar Systems and the International Space Station Mission to form ‘One Giant LEAF for Mankind’ and ‘My Space in Space’ by Stanley Road Primary School & Nursery in Worcester focuses on an astronaut who has crash landed onto an unknown planet.
The story of Laika, the Russian dog sent into space in Sputnik Two 60 years ago, has inspired
‘Adventures in Laika Land’ by Regency High School pupils in Worcester showcasing the adventures they imagine Laika had and the garden he made using his re-cycled rocket.
For the first time ever, the RHS Malvern Spring Festival is welcoming an International School to the School Garden Challenge. ‘Let’s Go’ aims to represent history and key aspects of space exploration and discovery by Russian cosmonauts and will be judged separately to the UK School Gardens.
The School Gardens Challenge is supported by BAM Construction and seeks to immerse young people in the vibrant world of horticulture. Horticulture naturally supports many subjects of the national curriculum: scientific, creative and physical. The project exposes children to the practical application of these in a hands-on and informative way.
Building of the school gardens begins in April and takes approximately three weeks to complete. A panel of RHS experts will judge the gardens on Wednesday 10 May, the day before RHS Malvern Spring Festival opens to the public. An estimated 100,000 visitors are expected to descend on the Three Counties Showground over the four-day show.
RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place from Thursday 11 May until Sunday 14 May 2017. Tickets are now on sale. Free entry for children under the age of 16 is available throughout the festival. For more information on ticket prices, please call 01684 584900 or visit www.rhsmalvern.co.uk.