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I'm looking for advise for good plants to use in the school garden that has been ruined by recent builing works. They need to be ones which wont take over the courtyard style area but give year long structure and interest. We are determined to improve this area.
Are you looking for something for adults to plant that looks good with little upkeep, or something to get the kids interested in growing things and wildlife?
Hello Nutcutlet, We are looking for all those things really. The adults will have little time with upkeep but it is mainly to get the school children interested in growing things as well as being a lovely view for all that pass through. We think it would be nice to have a small tree, alpines and herbs. Plants etc to catch the senses.
I think nasturtians are great for children, lovely fat seeds and they germinate quickly, the trailing ones can grow quite tall. I've just started some herbs this year in small beds,sage and mint smell delicious
I'm assuming if you're looking at herbs and alpines it's south-ish facing?
Herbs would be great. plenty of marjoram and thyme to attract the insects. You can teach the kids about the insects as well.
Native plants have lots of history and stories attached to them.
Buddleias for butterflies are easy and how about scabious which children find very pretty (little pincushion flowers) and are great for bees and butterflies too. My girls loved dianthus which I had in a big clump beside the path and they called it the hedgehog! Very tactile for little hands and easy to grow. I have three in a big pot next to a seat and I love touching it too! Evergreen and lovely scented flowers.As hollie suggests - herbs. Thyme and rosemary are both evergreen and easy to keep and have great scent. Flowers attract hoverflies and bees. How about a little bed for annuals which the children can sow? Nasturtiums are a great suggestion. Many others like Nigella and Larkspur are good for insects and grow easily as well.
Great suggestions, shall search for scabious etc as the Primary school children will definately want to be out there smelling and touching what we hope will be inspiring. We shall be having some easy annuals and maybe try and find a spot for beans or peas too.
Radishes are hyper-quick. Ready long before the summer hols
Sweet peas are easy for them to pop in too but they might miss a lot of the flowers as they will be on school hols! Another good one plant is Sedum (ice plant) as they flower a bit later and are magnets for bees and butterflies. They are also very easy to propagate so that could be useful. Hebes are easy shrubs and hardy geraniums also.
For a special plant, why not a 'family' apple tree - the ones where several varieties grow on the one tree? Verbena bonariensis great too - cheap, easy, good for wildlife and with those tall triangular-section stems, fascinating to kids. Honesty's good too - can use the seed pods for autumn craft projects. Sunflowers a must... mix up seeds of different varieties and see whose is tallest when u break up for summer, and again come Sep term.
How big is the garden?
How big are the children?
How many of them do you have, and for how long?
Having just been in the "how to take honeysuckle cuttings" thread, I could suggest a scientific experiment to see what length of cutting to take and what fraction of it to bury for best results, but this leaves some children with the unsuccessful numbers feeling left out unless you've got enough room (and a big enough source plant) for them to take multiple cuttings each.
I can't recommend trying to grow fruit trees from seed. The current pupils' children may just get to see fruit. That's a rather long wait for rewards.
Plants grown from bulbs are pretty fast-moving things. Crocuses and anemones have been and gone, hyacinths have come and are fading and the gladioli are doing fine right now. What'll work for you depends on climate and drainage. Hyacinths don't like it soggy. Lilies seem to be a bit late coming, listed as "June-July" or "July-August" on crocus.co.uk, so they may flower too late, which would be a shame. Hyacinths will make an enclosed garden smell fantastic ... and just like concentrated bathroom disinfectant.
My previous computer is now serving as a karaoke machine, but with a £15 webcam and two pieces of free software (autoclicker and Gimp 2.2) it was able to record germinating seeds: http://s300.photobucket.com/user/Sableagle/library/Tree%20seedlings?sort=3&page=1
I wanted to do the same with a lily or hyacinth but never did. I still have the kit, so maybe I still can. That might be a fun project, but you have to make sure the camera's in the exact same place for each frame of a plant, meaning you basically only get to film one flower per year.
As an alternative take on it, how about a wildlife space? Butterflies and bees have been mentioned. Add hoverflies, ladybirds and lacewings to that, and maybe even birds. There are a lot of things you can do to attract them, and you could tie in environmental lessons.
Sorry for a late reply to you all, been a hectic week. In answer to some of your questions Charlie November, the Children are 7/8 yrs and generally we are thinking more long term at this moment in time. So while there are some flowers that really wont be ideal (ie the ones flowering during the summer break) that has given us plenty of suggestions. I like the idea of a webcam to track the progress of the garden and will definately be suggesting that. Oddly something i am doing this year is a weekly snap of my own garden so that I can see how it alters through the year. I'm hoping time and effort will allow for 4 different sections of garden so that we can vary the planting. I just wish it didn't all come down to budget and finding others to volunteer. However I hope to post another picture soon of a 'getting there' stage. Thanks again