Sacred Heart Primary School students have spruced up their grounds with new hanging baskets. As part of the Henley in Bloom schools outreach project, a handful of Year 5 children spent Monday afternoon planting fuchsias and other flowers into the baskets, guided by Parks Horticultural Warden, Kyle Dowling and Henley in Bloom Chair, David Eggleton. The planting activity, to be rolled out in more Henley schools, aims to inspire young people to garden and to take an interest in nature.
The lucky Sacred Heart students who got to take a break from lessons were Dawid, Ruby, Claudia and Kiara – all in Year 5. The group had a brilliant time scooping soil and teasing out roots as they nestled the flowers in the baskets, carefully arranging and covering them as they went. The green-fingered group were directed by Kyle and David, who shared their knowledge of gardening and how to care for the shrubs. Each of the children described the activity as ‘calming’; 10 year old Dawid said, “It’s an easy thing to do and it’s calm. If you had a busy day, you could go outside in your garden and plant stuff to calm yourself down.”
Kiara reflected, “It was really fun and really educational because they kept telling us facts about how the plants grow, so it was really good. A fun fact about the plants is that [Dave] told us that for the winter you could cut off the little ends and plant them and they will grow again. I’d like to put the plants that we did in our garden.” Claudia also enjoyed her afternoon of gardening. “I think it was really cool to do, and really fun, because you’re making things for insects that eat the plants,” she said.
Sacred Heart were the first school to take part in the hanging baskets activity, soon to be followed by their neighbouring pre-school, Badgemore Primary School, and more to be confirmed. With the project, Henley in Bloom is hoping to engage the school children in the importance of nature, along with the joy of taking care of it. Kyle Dowling said, “It’s to inspire young people to grow really, to teach them about what’s good and what attracts important wildlife: pollinators, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, all the fun stuff. So we’re doing a workshop to try and get them excited about growing and taking pride in certain things.”
The hanging baskets and plants were funded by Henley in Bloom, a sub-committee of Henley Town Council, and sourced from Martin Sheldrake and his team at Toad Hall. David Eggleton, Chair of Henley in Bloom, was impressed with the interest shown by the Sacred Heart students.
“I think they’ve done very well,” he commented. “It’s taking part and watching things grow and getting involved in planting. You get to know a little bit, when you’re explaining about the different plants and what you can do with them in baskets; they also learn and create their own stuff in their own gardens.”
The hanging baskets will be proudly displayed in the Sacred Heart School grounds, as a testament to their talented young gardeners.