This week, our garden was opened by the mayor of Thetford. We are really proud of what we have achieved in the garden this year. The development of the garden has been led by the pupils - their ideas about what they would like, and what would support the wellbeing of themselves and that of others. They wanted to create a place that is a pocket of calm where they can feel surrounded by nature, with places to sit and reflect or to tuck themselves away and that is just what we have now!
A strong message from the pupils was one of sustainability and recycling. So, everything we have used in the garden is from the school or donated from the school community. With our school hazel being used for construction and fence building, local stumps for seating, our old school sinks for ponds and recycled materials for art pieces. Some of the teachers and pupils have had a go at making the willow crafts which now decorate the garden and we have planted willow, so that in time we will have a sustainable source of willow for making more sculptures and structures for the garden.
The Eco council have been working to improve biodiversity in the school, so we have wild edges and areas with dead wood to create habitats, and a pond to support wildlife. We are beginning to plant to attract pollinators with plans for more wildflowers next spring.
The Art council wanted the garden to include sculptures and art including some that reuse unwanted plastic. So, we have a flock of doves made by the school community during lockdown and beyond that were inspired by Peter Walker’s installations. Up in the trees hangs a bottle sculpture inspired by Chuily made by the Y5 art club. Our breakfast club have made a rainbow of bottle bottom flowers that brighten the fence and you’ll also find a Kandinsky inspired installation made by a year 3 art club.
This is just a start for our garden, the children have a long list of ideas that will keep us busy for a long time yet, with plans for a sensory trail and a tunnel next on our ‘to do’ list.
We have a pond! This is an exciting moment for us, as creating a small pond has been a key goal and requested by lots of pupils. A pond will attract all sorts of wildlife as well as providing a relaxing feature in the garden to support our wellbeing. To keep with our ethos of reusing what we already have at school, we used 2 sinks that used to be in classrooms before the new build. One of these has been made into a pond with branches and stones to make sure that wildlife can access the water easily. The other sink is being made into a bog garden which will increase the biodiversity of the area.
Already we are getting visitors. During Mrs Rosen’s assembly, being broadcasted from the garden, this squirrel popped by for a quick drink.
There has been lots of work going on in the garden over the last month. Lots of children requested a den or a place to hideaway n our wellbeing garden. Our long term goal is to create a willow dome, but in the meantime we now have a pallet den to tuck yourself away into.
Eco council have been hanging up bird feeders with apples and seeds.
The Arts council created bunting to decorate the garden. They used the technique called Hapa Zome to create leaf prints on fabric triangles. Hapa-Zome is a Japanese term meaning ‘leaf-dye’ and is the technique of smashing flowers and leaves into fabric. They had a great time arranging leaves then hammering them onto the fabric.
Some of our Year 6’s have been working on our fence. Lots of children requested that we hide the fence to create more privacy in the garden. In time, the trees we have planted in front of the fence will grow and create a natural barrier. In the meantime we are weaving hazel coppiced from our school hazel stools to start creating a screen.
Some of the staff at school tried their hand at willow weaving and made willow spirals to hang in the garden.
During lockdown, the virtual art club made doves from recycled milk bottles. Now we are back at school, we are bringing them together to create a flock of doves in Sophia’s Garden.
The idea was inspired by Michael Pendry who creates art installations from thousands of origami doves.
You can find out more about his work here:
We hope our flock continues to grow, and provides a message of hope to our school community, just like Michael’s flocks.
Sustainability and biodiversity is important to the Drake community, so we were excited when we received an offer of willow whips from a local landowner who has been creating a wildlife haven on his land.
Here is the willow being harvested ready to go into our garden:
The new willow will also provide us with a sustainable source of willow for future activities at school. We will be able to use cuttings for craft projects in Art and Forest School sessions. The children have requested living willow tunnels and domes, so in time we’ll hopefully be able to harvest enough willow of our own to create these.
Children have said they would like to be able to make art in Sophia’s garden using natural and found materials. So we have installed an outdoor weaving loom where children can weave in twigs, leaves and other things they find around the garden.
Another popular request has been a hammock to provide a relaxing, quiet place for chilling out. So we now have a hammock site and a hammock has been donated that be can be taken out for children who will benefit from spending some time relaxing under a tree.
The children have asked for birds to be hung for our trees, so in our online Virtual Art Club this month, we started making doves inspired by the work of the artist Michael Pendry who creates art installations from thousands of origami doves to spread message of peace and hope.
We were excited by the installation of a Storytelling chair in our garden – or as the children are calling it, a Giant’s Throne!
We can’t wait for all the stories that will be told from this spot.