Grow Wild: free wildflower seed

It is time for registration with Grow Wild to see if I can get a wildflower kit. Grow Wild is an initiative through Kew Gardens to grow native wildflowers. It brings people together to create community spaces to help the environment and bring cheer to spaces. By growing wildflowers, it offers food sources for pollinators and can help people’s mental wellbeing through planting and maintaining or just through seeing and enjoying.

The previous packs have been excellent. Grow Wild put together different seed mixes depending on your location in the UK. They then have different packs for different situations: woodland wonders, sensational, field flowers, nighttime bloomers and pollinators. This is an excellent project for teachers. Even if you can only provide a small space, a few planters or pots, it all adds up. Teaching children the significance of the individual plants will help prepare a new generation to take better care of our world. Vitally important work.

Previous mixes did well. The cornflowers brought in the bees and the goldfinches. Registration is open and people will find out if they have been successful next month. So if you work as a teacher or have a community space to grow it is well worth checking out.

Registration open here.

Even if you are ineligible it is worth browsing the website for ideas on collecting seeds and how to help pollinators.

Follow me on Twitter.

School Garden Update

Today the sun was shining. We had one class out of the three in F2 out. So I took this perfect opportunity to get children into the garden.

The garden area of my outdoor provision is split into essentially three allotment plots. The end plot I designated for a pear tree.  It has a dwarf apple tree, then a pear tree that will grow to a larger spread. So this plot I’m just giving the tree space to grow and under planting with a few flowers to bring in the pollinators. Apart from the potential for a fruit crop I just wanted a few trees that would have blossom for the children to build their seasonal knowledge. We have an apple tree planted outside of the garden area in addition to the pear. In the corner the mini pond has seen a few birds using for drinks. The children helped dig in a plastic planter within a tyre. We then filled around the edge with gravel and soil and heaped wood around the edge to create ramps. I doubt it will attract the frogs the children would like for a while, but the log pile and water will provide many insects a home.

Within the plot at the other end the children helped mix a rich soil mix using the leaf mulch from last year with compost to fill three of the tyres. Into these we planted two Glen Moy Raspberry bushes. I’ll need to add in supports for them to grow along, but I’ve got a lot of suitable material for making a frame in the shed, so should be possible. The raspberries are meant to be ready for June or July. One of the issues with growing for a school garden is many of the veg or fruit we might harvest would be during the school holiday or the children don’t see the culmination of their work as they have moved up a year. That said I have planted some red champagne rhubarb which will need at least a year to settle in, so my current children won’t see any results from this any time soon, but if it establishes it will keep going and going.

The middle plot the children planted up with daffodils in Autumn. I’m not a massive fan of daffodils, but wanted something to fill the space after I cleared the head height thistles.

As the garden won’t get as much of a water over Summer I’ve chosen drought tolerant plants. The rosemary is developing into a good thicket.

Then we have a number of mini hebes. I’ve gone with a number of evergreen options along the back portion of the plot to keep some greenery through the year. Between lavender, conifers, hebes and rosemary we’ve got a mix of foliage colour and leaves.

Before I started there was a willow tunnel. However much of this had been damaged by children to a point where there was one solid arch. I took cuttings last year that have been sat in the water butt developing roots. The children helped plant them in. This will hopefully gradually extend the arch back to a tunnel. I’ll have to see if they get a chance to root or whether the temptation to pull them is too much for the children.

Two visitors to the outdoor classroom.

I’ve registered for the RHS school gardening awards and hopefully will work through some of the levels to gain a few rewards. Even if I only complete the first few I think the children will enjoy seeing a certificate for their work. The garden may not look like very much, but I’ve tried to do as many jobs as possible with the children. This slows progress down. But they enjoy it immensely and are learning a mass amount of scientific knowledge. They are developing better grasps on plant biology and as the year goes on the seasons. Then as the garden develops we are seeing more wildlife visitors. From where I started last year with head high thistles across all three plots I feel immense progress has been made.

Nationale Tulpendag

Today is National tulip day in Holland. This is an event within Amsterdam in preparation for the tulip season. The event takes place within Dam Square. Over the morning people can see the tulips displayed, then in the afternoon they can pick the flowers for free. A rather delightful celebration of the unofficial National flower.

I never bothered with tulips in my last garden. Thin borders and clay soil gave me limited space. The soil in the current garden is still clay, but with slightly better drainage. So this year I’ve got a few varieties on the go. I went with black parrots in a container on the patio. These are rich, black tulips with frilly petals. These have been planted round a red stemmed prunus angustfoilia. I’m hoping the red stems and fruit will contrast nicely with the tulips. Then mixed in the border are a dark scarlet variety called red riding hood and the ever popular queen of the night tulip. This should flower around April or May, so hoping for a solid display around Alice’s birthday.

_DSC0328

Previous years I’ve had bulbs for school through uk.bulbs4kids.com/ They supply bulbs and planting kits for free. I moved schools though before as the shoots were coming up, so didn’t get to see them flower. The registration is past for bulbs for this year, but worth following if you are a teacher for next years registration. They supply a good set of tools and a healthy quantity of bulbs.

School garden

Over the Summer the allotment section of my outdoor area had become quite overgrown. I’d been working gradually to weed it with the kids, but it needed  a decent chunk of time in one go. So on Thursday I got into school during the holiday to get the garden back on track.

The garden is overlooked by magnificent trees, which I’m grateful to have, but means a lot of time is spent on clearing leaves. Luckily the kids quite like doing this and I’ve set up a leaf box, so next year we should have some lovely leaf mould. Monty Don would be pleased. This was the garden at the start of Thursday.

The first allotment section I’ve dug over and put weed matting down. Then going to use the tyres as planters. These are going to be used for fruit and veg. It’s important to show the kids where our food comes from and they’ll enjoy eating something they’ve grown.

The middle section I’ve moved around the existing plants. The plan for this section is to have a garden section of shrubs and flowers requiring little maintenance. So I’m adding shrubs and flowers that will suppress weeds and will gradually fill the space. We had several patches of rosemary that have been doing well. I’ve put the three together to hopefully grow into a bush. Then lavender next to these. I dug in plenty of grit for drainage. These should be fine with the Summer holiday where they will be neglected of watering everyday.

Along the back I’ve got four conifers to give us some greenery through the year. There only meant to be small varieties, but have plenty of space to move them if they get too big. Then in front of them a number of hebes, again to give us some greenery through the year and the flowers are beloved by many insects. Mainly small varieties, so we can still see across the two playgrounds.

The front I’d planted daffodils with the children. I like doing a few bulbs with the children as they learn to wait for that long term pay off next year.

The third section I’ve just dug over for now apart from the dwarf apple tree I planted earlier in the year. This has established well. This last allotment section I’d like as an orchard, so I’m going to look at a few more dwarf fruit trees. I reckon I can fit four in. Again this will teach the children more about where our food comes from. Again once it’s set it won’t involve too much maintenance. As it was four large allotment sections is too much work to do with the children. Hopefully how I’ve set it now the children should be able to be involved in the upkeep and see some rewards for their work later next year.

The water butt has some willow cuttings I’d taken earlier in the term. Their starting to root now. We have a number of willow tunnels and structures, but some are looking the worse for wear. Hopefully the cuttings can help build them up again or be used to extend the structures.


Not a bad days work. While it may not look like much now. Give it a year and it should be looking more like an area the children can be proud of. While I’ve been busy working Alice had a nice day out at the deep in her Halloween costume. She loved the fishes, running from tank to tank in excitement. She’s that little bit older than last time, so could enjoy it better.

School garden

This week the gardening club have helped dig over the last of the plots. They’ve planted tomatoes, beans, chillies and courgettes. The children keep asking are the courgettes bananas, so probably a a good thing for them to see growing. There a bit wilted at the moment, but if I let the F2s in to water a few times next week they’ll flourish in no time.

 photo IMG_1459_zps2xvzsgel.jpg

While in the garden we had a drafonfly visiting. This fascinated the kids. Looking in the field guide I think it’s possibly a common darter. The lavender is bringing in the bees and seeing quite a few ladybirds in too.

We had a local authority visit come to check my provision in my Foundation Stage. We got a positive report, commenting how children were focussed and how much mark making was going on outside. A lot of the boys were mark making too. In a city where this is an issue that was nice to hear. The outdoor provision has been my focus, so nice to know it’s improving.

30 days of wild: day 28-log pile house

“Where are you going to little brown mouse, 

Come and have tea in my log pile house.”

Today has been a very wet, soggy day. The heavens opened as we set up the outdoor area at school and hasn’t really stopped. We’ve done some powder paint mixing in the puddles, which the kids have enjoyed. The kids have collected rain water in an assortment of pans from the mud kitchen. An awful lot of potions were made.

For nature I built up a small log pile in the garden area in the shade. I’d like more spots for beetles, woodlice, etc. Unfortunately with rain I forgot to take a photo.

I have however found quite a few moths sheltering under the canopy. I’ve been discussing the difference between moths and butterflies with the kids over the last few weeks since we released the butterflies. This moth kindly obliged staying still for me to discuss it with the kids.

So the kids could see the charteristic fur, club antennae and the wings out at the side.

On my journey home my audio book, Watership Downs, is almost finished. Its looking to reach an exciting conclusion in line with the end of the 30 days.

30 days of wild: day 26-sharing

Today has seen me sharing my wildlife passions. The morning has been the culmination of several months of hard work. I changed schools this term and took a promotion to become am EYFS coordinator. We’ve had local authority moderation looming over us. So we’ve had a frantic couple of months collecting evidence and teaching the children to the level we needed. This morning we had the moderation and it went really well. Everyone of our assessments were signed off by the LA. So this lunchtime I spent a bit of times enjoying the children’s company.

On the main playground where the kids go out at dinner there is a wildlife garden. There is a ponds and planters with wildlife attracting species of flowers: lavender, rosemary and nettles.

 photo IMG_1322_zpsrpevl9ev.jpg

The kids currently are worm obsessed. Second in their interests are ladybirds. So at lunch I spent the time finding a ladybird larvae.

 photo IMG_1320_zpsnnh0g1hd_edit_1498506006573_zpsklnnzoun.jpg

And found a good few pupae. Both larvae and pupae ate probably the invasive harlequin menace, but children have a fascination with naming and understanding these things.

 photo IMG_1319_zpsn5b4ysax_edit_1498506113287_zps8soufuo3.jpg

Teaching natural history and the names of animals, birds and minibeasts has been shown to teach care for the environment. Then from this deeper empathy for other people. A useful lesson for a calm school.

Returning home my passion has rubbed off on my partner. She’s been taking photos while I’m out. This one stands out as pretty good and I like the subject matter too.


This is all part of what 30 days is all about though. Enjoying wildlife for your self is great, but getting more people to enjoy nature gives me an even greater joy. 

Who will you inspire?