School Garden – November 2018 update

Three months in and the garden has changed so much. The children have transformed this derelict space into an area they can be proud of. Here is the October post if you’d like to see some ‘before’ images.

Its amazing to see this project come into bloom. I always envisioned this garden space becoming a self-perpetuating project, yet I find myself being surprised on a daily basis by the children’s autonomy and creativity.

Coleus or ‘Flame Nettles’

These plants are thriving in the South China subtropical climate. We started with small cuttings, yet the flowerbeds are now exploding with colour. They have started to flower, and contrary to most advice out there on the internet, we have decided not to pinch these flowers off. To keep these plants bushy rather than ‘leggy’, the usual practise is to remove these buds in order to encourage leaf growth.

I presented the children with the choice, and they all opted to leave the flowers on, so that we will get more butterflies, and also so that the seeds will drop, resulting in more ‘baby plants’.

Giant Elephant Ear:

This is quickly becoming the children’s favourite plant, and for good reason. I showed them images of mature plants, and they couldn’t believe that one day they’d be able to sit underneath the leaves.

This plant is excellent for recording daily observations with the children…as it grows at such a rapid pace. The below images were taken over the space of a month, where we grew the plant in a large pot.

The plant has since been replanted in its own flower bed (again, the children’s idea).

They were so excited to find that a ‘baby elephant ear’ had sprouted next to it’s ‘mummy’.

Magic Fruit

Our art department got involved in the garden project by recycling leftover Papier mache pumpkins from Halloween.

These were repainted by a few different classes, thus further extending the student ownership across the primary school.

Signs:

When in the garden one playtime, some older children came over and asked of my class what the plants were. News had spread of a plant called Monkey Mask (Monstera Adansonii) and Elephant Ear. Children from the gardening club came up with the idea of signs, so that’s exactly what we did in the next after-school session.

I laminated their fantastic work and used a glue gun to affix their signs to some fake bamboo sticks I had left over from my old classroom.

As well as the tricycles, football pitch and climbing frames, the garden is now a staple activity for these primary aged children. Older children are actively teaching younger boys and girls (as young as four!) to fill up their watering cans, gently water all the plants the correct amount, how to sow seeds, and even replant seedlings.

Just look at how much more colorful out garden has become since our grand opening last month:

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