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As some of you know I've been asked by my daughters school to help bring their wildlife garden back up to scratch so it is safe for the children to explore and learn from.

As a result of this I have been asking some local gardening companies for donations. Trying to get blood out of a stone comes to mind.  The small companies are non existent round here as we have lots of large garden centres, and the small companies can't survivie.  Their response, speak to head office, but we get so many requests and we already donate to other charities...

One company who is a very large online garden company and is 4 miles up the road gave me the response that we get so many requests we have to say no to everyone. 

I'm so stunned at that last companies response, they are v local, & overpriced compared to many other companies.  

These companies aren't looking past the end of their nose, surely they should be encouraging local kids into gardening, and looking after wildlife. 

Thankfully I think I should be able to get a couple of small donations from a couple of local companies, but what a disheartening project this is. 

In the states, such small and large companies would have a budget for donations, and if they had money in the pot that month still, it would be a $5 gift card that is all it takes, I know it adds up but still. 

What are your thoughts on this.  In the meantime I'm off to raid my own garden to see what I can take into school. 


I used to work in marketing for an arts organisation and part of my remit was to try to get blood out of stones.

In the current economic climate few companies have budgets for donations - however, they do have budgets for advertisement/publicity/promotion.

You have to give them a reason to do this that they can explain to their accountants, so you tell them that they can

  • have free advertising in the school magazine - tell them how many copies you distribute and make it good
  • they can have their name and logo on a board by the garden so that the children and their families know which companies have donated and are 'friends' of the school
  • the local press will be doing a feature on the garden and 'sponsors' will get mentions
  • they can have advertisements up at the school fetes and sports day

all that sort of thing ................. they can get that past their accountants/shareholders etc

you need to do a bit of strategic planning - good luck 


What a shame. I think teaching children about wildlife and plants is so important and, in the long run, it is good for Garden Centres. The children will learn how to look after this beautiful planet too.


I Know times are tough for garden centres as it is for everyone at the moment but this is a really shame.

i used to work in a large garden centre and I know first hand the huge amount of plants thrown away that were fine with a little TLC. Garden centers are more like supermarkets than nurseries these days, very sad.

You should get in contact with the local paper, the sort that's delivered free, tell them what you're try to achieve at the school and ask them to write an article about it. Then go back to the garden centres and say the local paper is writing about it, hopefully some free advertising might convince them.

You should try any large gardens, even the council, should have some spare plants to donate, news letter to parents from school, I'd donate Good luck with it all.


I agree with Dove. You have to offer something in return such as a sign saying Sponsored by xxxx or else publicity in the school brochure and at events to do with the garden.  Otherwise, as they say, they get so many requests it's impossible to respond to all, even when times are good.   We have managed to organise sponsoring for our dance club this year and they will get publicity on our website and in the programmes for our end of year show and in the publicity flyers for our recruitment drive at the start of the next season in September.

If that doesn't work, you're going to have to think laterally.   You could also ask parents to donate a small sum such as one or two pounds per child to go towards buying seeds and compost for sowing plants and growing them on.

If that's not a  possibility, organise a tea and cakes event asking parents to contribute cakes and biscuits to sell to raise funds or ask them for donations of items for a bring and buy (mini car boot) event with all proceeds going to the garden


hollie hock

Housing associations and councils will have some sort of dept eg community investment who may be able to help, especially if the childrens parents are tenants. Community growing is very in here at the moment. They too like free publicity and getting their name out there.

Organisations such as Keep Wales Tidy or equivalent may be able to help as of luck with it.

Victoria Sponge

I tend to think the initiative has to come from the parents and children to be honest, sorry 

I don't have children but I'd be happy to help or donate but the parents/kids have to raise awareness by knocking on doors in the neighbourhood/holding events or whatever.

Gardeners are generous people by and large and love to pass on extras. 

Donations from business have to come from somewhere, profits, higher prices or where I used to work, from people's wages as they paid mandatory subscriptions for these situations...

Salino might like to speak to your local Asda 'community champion'... the larger stores will have one who sets up charity donations for shoppers to contribute by popping in those little green tokens they give at the checkout.... they run these for about 2 months at a time, with 3 choices.... anything to do with children, schools etc. are usually very popular with parents and children enjoy popping the tokens into the boxes too.... it also gives publicity as the one that gets the most tokens [they all get some money even if they don't win]... will also get into the local paper, with a photoshoot etc... benefits Asda in this way... the shoppers only put the tokens in the boxes, it doesn't cost them anything otherwise...Asda puts up the money....  not huge amounts.... but to quote from one of their main competitors...''every little helps''...

star gaze lily

Waitrose do the same sceem, by collecting green tokens 

Some time ago I worked for awhilein retail, and many people came in for donations etc, we had to say the same, that we were not allowed to donate in anyway and they would have to contact head office. There isn't a way of putting things through the till and everything has to be accounted for, for stocktakes etc. Shame but I can see where they are coming from.

Councils often plant things by war memorials, roundabouts, parks etc. And when they replace the seasonal flowers they just get thrown away, could you not apply to the council for the 'cast offs' 

Homebase often have almost 'dead' plants in a corner.

Also as obelixx said, do bring and buy stalls, raffles etc.


I think maybe they wont donate  because these sort of set ups are sometimes 5 minute wonders.  My grandsons school did a similar project, after a while it was just overgrown with weeds.   People couldnt get in to water , pick or weed through the holidays and it was left to die.

I think these projects should be funded by the schools.

Orchid Lady

Peanuts, I don't know where you live but if it's not far from me or en route to one of my customers, I would happily donate some vegetable plants......I have grown far too many for my own use in my excitement!!


Where are you Peanuts (I don't think your profile says) and what plants do you actually want / need? Perhaps there's a couple of members who can help / know of a company that might.

thank you for the feedback everyone.  Appreciate hearing both sides.

I am in Camberley, and have been asking companies for plants and seeds that will attract wildlife and that will survive in a shady spot, bird boxes, etc.  I've got to put out a call to a company who have said they are organising something for us and were due to callback when they had it ready a few weeks back.  I do cringe a bit asking for donations, so it isn't something that comes very easy for me.  the things we do for our kids. 

I'm hoping as my youngest daughter will start at the school in september, they should get my help for the next 3 years, so I guess slowly slowly maybe I can get it to look after itself and get someone to take it on when we leave. Here's hoping anyway, 


flowering rose

Why not ask your local gardeners or allotment owners or if each child choose a plant and bought from their local garden centre (grandparents could donate cause) the fun in choosing and dads and granpa s could try out their carpenter skills.


Frimley waitrose does the green token thing others have mentioned - often its for school/scouts/guides etc.  


Scott Edwards

Where in Camberley? You might like to contact the school's local parish church. They might be very happy to support you. I was a vicar just outside of Camberley until a couple of years ago. Knowing most of the clergy I can say that I think they might be keen to support their local school. I certainly wouldn't bother with the local garden centres - during my 8 years in the area I watched them become much more interested in selling all sorts of nonsense rather than selling plants. Very sad indeed! 


Some years ago, the local hospice wanted to create a garden and pond area. They asked for help from the local community for labour etc. I donated a number of plants that I had excess of. Many people just volunteered an hour or two to plant them.

In hard times, many people will donate excess plants or free labour, but not money. Increasingly, businesses are run by accountants, and all the fat from the system has already been trimmed. Maybe an appeal to the parents for excess plants or a few hours help would be the way forward.


I just thank the stars that we are not part of the usa. But Waitrose do have lots of really good locally based schemes.

Well I can write for your local schools magazine if that helps my email is 


Waitrose explain the vitues of their 3 options  and let their customers  decide.