Amongst the many activities running at Shuttleworth over the Whitsun break and Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday was our fantastic Jubilee Wheelbarrow Garden Competition for lower and primary schools in Central Bedfordshire. Children from 23 participating schools designed and created mini-gardens in wheelbarrows, all following the Jubilee theme.
The competition is designed to get little hands gardening, and we ran it on a smaller scale last year with a Wildlife theme. Schools were only just getting back into the swing of things after the various lockdowns, so it was great to receive so many applications to enter the competition this year. Rules state that the wheelbarrows must contain at least 30% of planted material, and the schools are provided with a wheelbarrow, 2 bags of compost and a discount voucher to spend on plants at Poplars Garden Centre in Toddington, one of the sponsors of the competition over the last two years.
It was amazing to see so many different interpretations of the Jubilee theme in the designs and the effort and creativity that had been implemented by the children. From the ‘Queen Bee’ bug hotel to a miniature restaurant and street party, Pall Mall in pebbles with the Queen looking out from Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Green Canopy using tiny tree saplings, the number 70 planted up in begonias, an interactive ‘hunt the queen’ barrow and many more, our visitors struggled to choose a favourite. The more we looked, the more detail we spotted in the designs, so it became even harder to choose a winner!
Thankfully we didn’t have that responsibility, as the winners were selected purely by votes from our visitors! We were thrilled to find that 2,095 people in total had participated in the voting process over the holiday week. It was also lovely to meet so many of the teachers and children coming in to place their votes and support their schools. Volunteer stewards were on hand to give out the voting tokens and explain the competition to visitors, and apart from one or two days of rain (which helped water the barrows!) the sun shone on the competition for most of the week, showing the designs off at their best.
All of the schools produced worthy entries, but as is the way with competitions, there have to be winners! In first place, with their winning combination of fizzing fireworks, lovely planting and a truly scrumptious knitted Queen, it was Raynsford Academy in Henlow with a whopping 299 votes! Second place went to John Donne Primary of Blunham, who created the perfect mini street party and restaurant scene, complete with painted peg people, a scarecrow and a vegetable patch with actual radish and lettuce seedlings! Linslade Lower School won third place with their delightful ‘Queen Bee’ bug hotel with its baskets of tomato and strawberry plants, on which the children had placed signed ‘worker bee’ medallions which could be utilised as personalised keyrings afterwards. And finally, in fourth place, Langford Village Academy delighted and amused voters with the children’s very personal portraits of the Queen and drawings of some of London’s greatest landmarks including Big Ben and the London Eye.
Congratulations to our winners who will each receive gardening vouchers – a total of £200 between them – which have been donated by Bedfordshire Gardens Trust to help improve their school gardens and encourage the children to get planting! As the Swiss Garden is an accredited RHS Partner Garden, we are keen to promote their work with schools to actively engage young children with horticultural activities. Find out more about the RHS Schools Programme here: home / RHS Campaign for School Gardening
We are so grateful both to our sponsors and to all the schools who participated in this year’s competition. We look forward to running this lovely activity again over the Whitsun holiday in 2023 – keep an eye on our website to find out more about next year’s theme!