Lancashire Life Garden of the Year 2015 competition - the winners revealed

School Gardens comp winners at Manor Road Cty Primary , Clayton-le-Woods.
John Foley of Holden Clou

School Gardens comp winners at Manor Road Cty Primary , Clayton-le-Woods. John Foley of Holden Clough Nursery with staff members (from the left) Sam Charnley, Linda Gillbanks and Deborah Jacques along with some of the ECO and School Council children - Credit: Archant

Manor Road Primary School in Clayton-le-Woods have proved their green finger credentials by winning our School Garden of the Year competition. We meet the pupils to find out what makes their garden special

Some Manor Road pupils in their bee keeping outfits

Some Manor Road pupils in their bee keeping outfits - Credit: Archant

A place to learn, relax, exercise and meet with friends, the gardens and school grounds at Manor Road Primary were exactly what the judges for Lancashire Life School Garden of the Year were looking for.

A well deserved winner of the £750 prize fund, donated by Holden Clough Garden Centre owner and former BBC Young Gardener of the Year John Foley, we visited the school in Clayton-le-Woods so that the pupils could show us first hand what exactly they had been up to.

Pupils digging to plant new additions to their garden

Pupils digging to plant new additions to their garden - Credit: Archant

From harvesting honey from their beehives donated by Bez from the Happy Mondays, through to carving toadstools under the guidance of award-winning sculptor Thomas Dagnall, the pupils have certainly been busy. Led by teachers Deborah Jacques and Linda Gillbanks, who each participate in running the school and eco councils, the children have been at the heart of all the ground developments.

‘We want the pupils to leave here with lots of knowledge and green fingers!’ said Linda. ‘The grounds are now incorporated into lessons. It’s not all about growing a pretty garden, but it’s about enjoying the outdoors.’

This isn’t the first award that the school have received. In 2015, they were shocked to receive two awards from Britain in Bloom: Outstanding School and Environmental awards. They’ve also participated within Lancashire County Council’s Chairman’s Challenge.

‘In 2013, we took on a project to build an eco-friendly, plastic bottle greenhouse,’ said year six pupil, Alice, 11. ‘It took a few months to collect all the bottles, but it was fun to do.’

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Alice, along with fellow pupil Kieran, was in charge of counting how many bottles they had. ‘People brought in bottles every Tuesday and each week we checked how many more we needed,’ explained Kieran, 10. ‘We eventually had 1,200 and then helped the caretaker to build it.’

The school were successful in winning the challenge, and were awarded with a trophy from Councillor Kevin Ellard, the then chairman of Lancashire County Council. ‘Alice and Kieron never gave up, collecting bottles for months,’ said Linda. ‘The greenhouse is now used to protect plants in the winter and grow seedlings in the summer. We’re very keen to teach the pupils to grow from scratch.’

From the vegetables such as potatoes, beans and pumpkins in the allotment, to a range of fruit bushes in raised beds, some donated and planted by Avant Garden Centre, anything that is grown within the grounds is invested back into the school. ‘All the fruit we wash and eat,’ six-year-old Megan tells me. The year one pupil, along with her friend Holly, was Manor Road’s youngest student to become a school councillor, aged four. ‘In the summer, my family and I visited the school to look after the chickens,’ she tells me proudly.

The hens became a part of school life in 2012, and their free range eggs are used for cooking projects both in school and by the local over 55’s club. Deborah says that there may be the possibility of expanding their miniature farm with the addition of piglets: ‘But we’re only at the thinking stage at the moment!’

However the school have thought about what they would like to spend their £750 prize on. ‘The pond currently has a few leaks and dries up in the summer, so we would like to fix that,’ added Deborah. ‘We also want to make a path for wheelchair access in the field so that pupils can get around there with ease.’

‘It’s just fantastic that the hard work of the children and staff has been recognised,’ said head teacher, Karen Marshall. ‘We’re looking forward to visiting Holden Clough Garden Centre to buy new things.’

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