And the winner is? Ilsham C of E Academy Garden Designs

And the winner is? Ilsham C of E Academy Garden Designs

I felt quite honoured when the headteacher from Ilsham C of E Academy, Jake Grinsill, asked me to come along and have a look at their school garden and see if I could offer any advice on how the area could be improved so that the children could start to use the area again. I designed three gardens and the teachers and children had the chance to choose which one they wanted to see in their school.


Mr Grinsill wanted the area to play several roles including:


– an area to allow the children to grow food to eat and to share with the local community.


– somewhere for children to read and reflect.


– the area to be self sufficient.


– conservation and recycling is a key element.


I started off by taking a visual check of the area to see which structures had to stay and which ones could be removed to make the space more accessible and usable. 


The next part was the fun part. I came up with three different designs ro see which one suited the needs of everyone at the school. I made sure that all the criteria were met and these were the three designs I came up with:

Design 1 – Updating the existing structure

Whoever had designed the garden previously had done a good job of thinking about the use of the space but it has just become tired and unloved. Some of the spaces have become uneven and overgrown and some parts of it were no longer viable to the larger number of children that need to use it. Also, there were some different priorities now with the idea of recycling being a big part of the design. This design takes out a lot of the parts of the area that are no longer useable and updates and builds upon the parts that are already there.

Design 2 – I.L.S.H.A.M. flower beds


I really liked the idea of this design. Ilsham has six letters with six year groups needing a planting bed each and it just seemed to fit nicely. The box at the front could be used by the reception children with the other year groups donating plants to them and helping them to plant them and help them to grow. 

Design 3 – Pathway to Growth


I thought of this design as I thought it would be nice that once inside the pathway, you had to follow it all the way to the end, just like a thought pathway. I placed benches and quotes from the bible at different places so that children could sit and reflect. Again, 6 flower beds for each of the year groups. 


Some of the features that were common to all the designs were the raised bed around the top edge for hedges and trees, compost areas along the side so the children could recylce plants as they died off and the whole area to be covered in bark chip. 


The idea is that the edge at the top with the hedges and trees would be self sufficient and create a pretty backdrop for all the beautiful areas the children will create. The compost areas have been split into different sections so that as the plants break down they can be rotated and make new compost. I decided that the ground area being covered in bark chip would meet several criteria. The bark chip would be soft underfoot, stop weeds coming through and also could be replenished for free by using all the branches that have fell down and chopped up and added to the pathway. 


After much deliberation, which design won? Well it was design one!!! Everyone liked aspects of different designs but in the end Design one was the winner. 


So, what is next? Now a thorough drawing, to scale, needs to be carried out and a quote for materials is going to be put together so we can start to see the design come to life and the children of Ilsham Academy can start to grow edible foods and grow beautiful flowers.

Read our other Blogs/Articles

Make sure to read our other articles and discover lots of content.