Some of the nation’s school gardening stars gathered at RHS Garden Wisley recently for an awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of horticulturists young and not so young.
The competition, run as part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, saw Preston's Heather Birkby named RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2015, Peter Edwards from Heston win School Gardening Champion and a 15-strong group of pupils from Palmerston School in Liverpool named Team of The Year.
ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter Frances Tophill presented Heather and Peter with commemorative engraved trowels, while Palmerston School will receive a visit from Frances this autumn. Winners will also receive prizes including £500 in gardening vouchers for their school, a selection of gardening tools, and the offer of working alongside RHS gardeners for a day in one of the Society’s spectacular gardens. Palmerston School will also take delivery of a top-of-the-range greenhouse donated by Keder Greenhouses to help nurture their budding horticultural talents.
Selected from a record number of nominations, finalists were given a digital camcorder to make a short film to share their knowledge and passion for horticulture with the judging panel, which this year included Frances, broadcaster and gardening editor Peter Seabrook and experts from the RHS. The videos produced by the winners, alongside those of other finalists, can be viewed on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening’s YouTube page.
Fourteen-year-old Heather, from Broughton High School, Preston, wowed the judges with her extensive horticultural knowledge, and her natural ability to engage those around her so that everybody gets stuck in.
Awards were also given to Livvy Temme (aged six, pictured right) from Ashton Gate Primary School in Bristol, Jasmin Carys Foster-Leslie (11) from Ysgol Llangynfelyn in Powys and 15-year-old Ben Moore from Cirencester Deer Park School in Gloucestershire.
Peter, an 82-year-old gardening volunteer at the Rosary Catholic Primary School, Heston, Middlesex, was recognised for his enthusiasm and tireless dedication. It is his commitment and generosity, supported by testimonies from students and teachers at the school, that particularly impressed the judges.
Palmerston School was chosen for its incredible teamwork and enthusiasm. Through the group’s hard work and determination, the school – which supports pupils with severe or profound learning difficulties – now has a dedicated gardening area suitable for cross-curricular activities such as mini-enterprise projects and work experience, complete with raised beds created and planted by the students.
The RHS Young School Gardener of the Year competition is part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening which is now supporting about 19,000 schools across the UK. RHS research has shown that gardening can help children develop by teaching them life skills and improving their wellbeing.