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Wild flower garden in a school - help please!

(9 Posts)
Runoutofideas Tue 05-Feb-13 14:26:30

Am completely clueless about gardening so please excuse my possibly stupid questions!
Our primary school would like to install a quiet reading area/wild flower garden area on a piece of land which is currently unused behind some classrooms. The PTA have been asked to provide funding for it. School have obtained one quote from a landscape design company which, at £9000, I consider to be way over what we were expecting to pay.
Any ideas on what we could plant or include which needs to be easy to maintain and will provide a pretty, relaxing area fairly quickly? We would like it to encourage wildlife which would give the children greater educational opportunities too.
I don't know where to start...

tougholdbird Tue 05-Feb-13 19:06:26

That sounds like a fab idea. I can't do links on my ipad but there is a free ebooklet on the wildlife and countryside services website which might help you.

tougholdbird Tue 05-Feb-13 19:08:17

It is called '10 easy ways to make a wildlife garden'

Suttonmum1 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:46:23

What angle do you come to this from? Are you PTA? I have become heavily involved with our School Garden as I used to be on PTA and was roped in as a keen gardener. There is a gulf between what staff want, what landscape designers think is OK and what is really practical.
To start with, wildflower meadows tend to be at there best in Summer and for a good school garden you need stuff for all year round interest (there is no point in planting stuff that mainly flowers in the school holidays). Also most need a good deal of sun. How much sun does your plot get?
I would try to find a good gardener amongst the parents who can help, in my experience many teachers are a bit young to have got the gardening bug.

To keep costs down get the heaviest work done by landscapers and get parental involvement on planting.

If you can find one parent with the vision to put together a plan then it will really help.

Finally there is the RHS school gardening initiative and I found looking at other schools gardens on google image searches very useful.

Search for Creative Star Learning for more outdoor education ideas and links.

Suttonmum1 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:47:37

PS You are very lucky if your school has 9K to spend on this! Ours has been done on a pittance.

Runoutofideas Wed 06-Feb-13 08:19:16

Thanks all. I am the PTA treasurer and while we have £9k in the bank there are other things which are required too so I'm trying to avoid blowing the whole budget on the garden.

The area is mainly quite shady so maybe a meadow isn't the way to go. i think school are after something fairly unstructured and relaxed feeling but I have no idea how to achieve that.

I was wondering whether we could get a local college involved in design etc? Anyone have any experience of that?

I'm concerned that we are running out of time for this year for planting etc. Maybe we'd be better off buying the benches and planting up some tubs nicely for this year with a view to incorporating the benches into a proper design for next year? Any ideas? Thanks

CuttedUpPear Wed 06-Feb-13 21:02:05

Please don't give 9K to a landscaping company when the children (and even parents) could be learning by creating the garden themselves.

If it's shady then this company is being dishonest with you by pretending that a wild flower area would work there - it won't.

You are absolutely not running out of time for planting - many people are thinking of the old days when the only plants you could buy were bare rooted ones in the winter, trees in the main. Those days are gone and you can make a lovely inclusive project by getting the kids involved in seeding and planting.
It's a learning opportunity.

Outdoor furniture will use some of your budget and perhaps you need some edging and pathways installing but it needn't be a figure like the one you were quoted.

I speak as a garden designer and landscaper who has done quite a bit of work for schools. I'm absolutely not touting for work but would be happy to give you a bit of free advice by email if you wanted it.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 07-Feb-13 09:31:07

And look on the Royal Horticultural Society website - they have a lot about schools gardening.

Beware of getting a college involved. In my experience, The students get carried away and don't listen to the brief. We had a project in a graveyard so the prime rule was no deep excavation, yet just about every student design entailed changing soil levels, massive excavation etc etc!

Runoutofideas Thu 07-Feb-13 12:44:23

Brilliant - thanks all for your comments.

Cutteduppear - thanks for the offer. If you are anywhere near Bristol please pm me and maybe we can discuss further.

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