This was my children’s primary school, so it was an honour when I was asked to give the garden a ”bit of a lift”. Like all schools the trampling of tiny feet day after day had killed off most of the garden plants and left the lawn areas compacted and dead.
The most lasting way to add colour and beauty to a school ground is to avoid depending on plants to do the job. Instead the paint brushes came out and any structure that looked a little drab was given a rainbow of paint colours.
So when you visit our little country school you are first met with giant colour pencils either side of the front gate. As one parent joked – “they draw you in”!
As you make your way to reception you pass several wooden bird houses painted with bright patterns. The houses will probably never house a bird but they reflect a school that welcomes everyone and will do whatever can be done to make everyone feel at home.
To appeal to the children’s sense of discovery there are hidden rocks painted to look like colourful bugs. The plan was for them to peak out from under plants, but the students decided they are better used as play things. They are found daily in new locations such as in groups, having a picnic or placed in a nest of twigs.
The vegetable garden was the next place for colour. Each picket was given a coat of colourful paint which is only a small suggestion of the colour and whimsy that lay beyond. Tyres were painted and stacked to be a herb bed that help bring the plants up to be in easy reach of fingers. Hub caps became decorative features for the blank wall and unused ceiling fans were made into dragonflies and attached to shed wall. In between all of this were beds of vegetable, strawberries, worm farms, fruit trees and the much-loved chooks.
The most successful part of this garden make-over was the overwhelming response from parents, students and staff in being the muscle when installing the garden. The school will forever be grateful to those who volunteered with their bobcat, building experience, fencing skills, paint brushes, shovels, or wheelbarrows. Even those who catered for the workers are all heroes!