I mentioned in an earlier post how much I enjoyed seeing the children’s gardens at Tatton Park. This is why! I’ll let the gardens speak for themselves, pretty much – there were too many lovely touches to point them all out.
Each school interpreted the work of an artist in their garden, including William Turner, Evelyn Dunbar and Banksy, all shown above (a list of the artists and schools featured in this post is at the bottom).
I loved these large planters which I’d guess were made from recycled wheelie bins, cut down to size. The designs – abstract tree, leaf, bird and land motifs – were a great way to camouflage the plastic.
Throughout the gardens, it was fun for art lovers to spot references to the artwork. The Salvador Dali garden featured the melted clocks the artist is famous for, and you didn’t have to try too hard to see Van Gogh’s sunflowers and starry night.
I loved seeing the folk art for young folk: decorated signs; upcycled containers; toys used as kid-sized garden art; and what we might call communal art, such as the decorated log slice and pebble paths, each with a slightly different character, the whole with an overall style.
Cuteness was there in bundles for those in the least bit susceptible. The construction work was beautifully done, for example, the arched bridge in the Antony Gormley garden.
The great thing about empowering the imagination is that no two designs were alike, even though the core ingredients were the same – paths through borders leading to backdrops with doors. Features included customised birdhouses; scarecrows; stuffed denim, shoulder bag, tin can and tyre planters; insect hotels (one with a green roof); edging made from bottles, plastic containers and bark rectangles; pine cone mulch; paths made from planks, tree trunk slices, tiles, rush matting, upturned bottles, and even Manchester bees.
I marvelled at the paths made to represent William Morris and Vincent Van Gogh. They were not only decorative, but also a great way to coax out an awareness of the unique styles of the artists.
The graphics throughout were beautifully done too. I loved the lemur (and a giraffe I’ve not shown) and liked the way the bird design on the backdrop to the Picasso garden was carried through to the garden by the large finial on the trellis, the little bird flag and the tree ornament.
The gardens were packed with thoughtful touches you really had to enjoy up close at your leisure. You can hardly make them out in the picture above, but each section of floor matting had a pottery plate sunk into it with a hand painted design worthy of its own post.
Wandering around these gardens I had a strong sense how the pupils, teachers and members of their communities had been brought together by the project. It was good to feel the kids had more insight into what goes into making a garden, how some of our great artists thought and worked, and got their first taste of the heady excitement every contributor feels when they have the chance to take part in a major flower show.
All of the school gardens would have had a gold medal if I’d been marking. No question about it. While some had perhaps placed more emphasis on interpreting the artist than the planting or gardening aspects, they were all inspired and inspirational. I haven’t managed to include them all here, but that’s down to my picture taking skills, not the value of the gardens.
My hat goes off to the teachers, students and pupils and the artists and craftspeople and sponsors for these gardens and to the RHS for investing in this feature as part of their award-winning campaign for school gardening.
My sweetheart loved the simple but effective design of this meeting place towards one side of the school gardens – a kid’s boardroom, you might call it.
It’s funny how our attention is often on the grand – the show gardens – when the miniature is just as worthy of celebrating. It’s impossible to look at any one of these gardens without sensing the care that has been lavished into it. Have you ever seen a more earnest painter than a child, painting a slice of tree trunk or turning a stone into a bee?
List of School Gardens featured
Andy Goldsworthy Garden by Walmsley Primary School
Antony Gormley Garden by Wilmslow Grange CP School and Nursery
Anya Gallaccio Garden by Cheshire Academies Trust
Banksy Garden by Prestbury C of E Primary School
Claude Monet Garden by Croft Primary School
Clifford Webb Garden by Holy Name RC Primary School
David Hockney by Bexton Primary School
Evelyn Dunbar Garden by St Catherine’s C of E Primary
L.S. Lowry Garden by Whirley Primary School
Marianne North Garden by Evelyn Street Community Primary School
Pablo Picasso Garden by St Mary’s Catholic Primary School
Salvador Dali Garden by Bruce Primary School
Vincent Van Gogh Garden by St James’s C of E Primary School
William Morris Garden by St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
William Turner Garden by Nether Alderly Primary School