Archive for 10/05/2013


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Love Outdoor Play

130510. Zoe Slade - Empty Classroom Day posterGuest post by Zoë Slade.

On Friday 5 July 2013 schools all over the country will be learning outside for Empty Classroom Day.

Empty Classroom Day is a day to celebrate all the learning that takes place outside the classroom and to encourage even more outdoor learning. The day was created by schools and organisations at London Sustainable Schools Forum and the idea is simple: One class, outdoors, for one lesson on one day.

Last year, despite the rain, over one hundred schools took part with activities ranging from planting wildflowers, bug hunting and pond-dipping to inspiring class visits to the great outdoors. The first Empty Classroom Day was a success showing that learning outside can be fun, memorable and healthy. This year lots of schools have signed up to say that one class will be learning outside for one lesson on Friday 5 July, some schools are doing even…

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Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens

Heritage Lottery FundA couple of weeks ago saw the launch of a remarkable new book about the history of the Fens.

Ian Rotherham, the author of ‘The Lost Fens’ is a writer, broadcaster and Professor of environmental geography and reader in tourism and environmental change at Sheffield Hallam University.

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The Lost fens, by Ian Rotherham. Source: http://www.environmentalhistories.net/?p=697
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Ian Rotherham

The Lost Fens is about the history of the cultural landscape of the Fen area. It tells the story of the most dramatic ecological destruction in our history. Around 8,000 sq km of wetland present in the 1600s was almost entirely obliterated by 1900. The book draws together the story of a lost ecology, of changing landscapes, lost people, lost cultures and ways of life, and lost wildlife.

The story of these lost Fens is, in Rotherham’s words “the greatest single ecological catastrophe that ever occurred in England”.

Indeed, so thoroughly…

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I’ve just returned from a session of the ‘Gardening Club’ at my local primary school – 7 children of varying ages. What a little preparation and enthusiastic kids can achieve! We:

  • Painted up the pallet planters we’re making for a floral display at the school (we’re planting up hanging baskets next week for sale at the Summer Fair on 19th May) – more on this project in due course…
  • Set up a wormery outside the school kitchen – I bought some worms from a local angling shop and with the day’s fruit peel and other kitchen waste on a bed of leaf mould we set the little critters to work and talked with the School cook about how to keep the process going…
  • Sowed some Squash and Lavender seeds one of the children had brought in – they’re already excited at how tall their sowings of trailing Nasturtiums have grown in two weeks…
  • Had a brief run down on the composting process in the wormery and set them a challenge of finding out some ‘compost facts’ for next week, as well as discussing who’ll be available to help me sell the hanging baskets, make paper pots with children visitors and advise people on food growing and composting at the Summer Fair…

Phew – need  a little sleep….

Old School Gardener

PicPost: Caterpillar Track

In this latest article about different garden styles I turn my attention to Country Gardens, trying to capture their essence in a few words and images.

Country Gardens are usually fairly large (in some senses they can be seen as a larger version of the Cottage Garden). They tend to follow a pattern of straight-line formality or other clear geometrical shape near to the house, with increasing informality as you move further away, where the garden becomes more and more integrated with the surrounding countryside. Likewise, planting tends to be more formal near the house (possibly featuring topiarised shrubs), but becomes more naturalistic towards the edges. Other key features of Country Gardens are:

  • Luxuriant planting

  • Large pools and/or streams

  • Views into the surrounding landscape, sometimes ‘framed’ by boundaries or planting

  • Sweeping lawns

  • Hedging and other screens that might divide up the garden into different areas

  • Natural materials, especially as the garden moves away from the house

  • Garden structures, furniture or specimen plants that act as eye catchers/ focal points

Let me know what you think makes a Country style garden, and if you have some pictures I’d love to see them!

Other posts in the series:

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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