St Mary’s create their Wonderland

Added on 19 June 2008

St Mary's create their Wonderland

The pupils of St. Mary the Virgin Primary School in Gillingham were busy planting trees, shrubs and flowers to get their grounds ready for the big opening of the Community Garden. Within a few hours the children converted dull spots on the grounds into amazing gardens and got some hands-on experience in gardening.

For a long time the pupils of St. Mary the Virgin Primary School in Gillingham have been looking forward to this event where they were finally allowed to dig up their school grounds. Equipped with spades, trowels and rakes and supported by the professional team of Sherborne Castle Gardens the pupils for once did not swot English and numeracy but learned a lot about how to prepare the perfect pit for a tree, how to make climbers climb and how to arrange perennials in a flower bed. The children relished this special day on their grounds and at the end were very proud of what they have accomplished: They have turned a bare acre into an orchard and a fallow mound into a butterfly garden, planted a sensory garden and introduced native plants into the boggy area around the pond. "I can't believe how the kids transformed the grounds, this is amazing!" marveled a mother who came to pick up their children in the evening.

Some children were able to spot two newts during their work around the pond, which is already inhabited by the Great Crested Newt, a protected species. Other wildlife like insects, birdlife and small mammals are expected to make the orchard, wildflower meadow and butterfly garden their home soon. These features aim to enhance the understanding of the children for the natural environment and help to increase the awareness as to the source of food and the importance of sustainable living.

This whole-school planting day was one of the last big steps towards the St. Mary the Virgin Community Garden established by many volunteers and some professionals during the last year. Additionally to the environmental features the garden provides exciting play opportunities for children of all ages as a football field, an award winning maze, a beach garden complete with a willow pirate ship, an obstacle course, and shady places to sit and rest. The Community Garden is open to the public out of school hours.

The public opening ceremony of the St Mary the Virgin Community Garden will be celebrated with a summer fair on Saturday 21st June, starting at 2pm. The fair themed "Alice's Adventure in Wonderland" offers fun for the whole family as a bouncy castle, tombolas, raffle, TVR car display, fire engine, treasure hunt, craft and cake stalls, face painting and much more. Refreshments will include a BBQ, Dorset cream teas and a beer tent.

The gardens are a community project largely funded by Liveability, through the Three Rivers Partnership, by Friends of St. Mary School, by the school itself and by a Religious Education and Environment Program Award. Thanks to the ongoing support of Friends of St. Mary School, the Community Garden will improve further in the near future with additional features as picnic tables and hedges.


For further information or other/more pictures contact:

Daniela Vavrecka-Sidler on 01747 835 334 or 07717 843136,


« Return to Press