Thursday, 8 June 2017

Penultimate and final Day of Schools Garden Judging.

Today the Judges moved closer to the city with visits to Cobh, Douglas, Knockavilla Ballincollig,  and our very Special School of the Divine Child in Ballintemple.
Our first port of call was Cobh Mixed National School which overlooks Cork Harbour in a beautiful south facing aspect. Space here is at a premium but that has not deterred parents, teachers and parents from making full use of every square inch. Colour and Art are well used everywhere in  the garden. They have also managed to produce many vegetables and herbs by making use of upright Pallet gardening.

Douglas also has a link to our maritime history. During the Napoleonic War Sailcloth was produced locally in Douglas for the Royal Navy. Our vi it to Douglas was to St. Columbus Girls National School and we were greeted by a feast of colour and Art. The students here utilised the skills of parents and grandparents to create beautiful Fairy Houses which now adorn the garden. Food production is also to the fore as well as a hidden gem which they refer to as their 'Bog Garden'

Then it was on to Ballintemple in Cork City and the School of the Divine Child based in the Lavanagh Centre. Every year the teachers and pupils of this school have something new to unveil and they did not disappoint us this year either. One of the themes this year was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Henry Ford in Ireland. Another theme was based on Nursery Rhymes which the children use with much delight. Well done to all involved.

From Ballintemple we headed on to West Cork again to visit Knockavilla National School a few miles north West of Crossbarry. The rain did not deter our keen gardeners as they show us around this lovely school garden. A new addition to the garden is their new Polytunnel where they showed us a wide variety of fruit and vegetables of which they are very proud. They have also produced a wonderful Lighthouse Sculpture from recycled plant pots. Great work,

We then headed back through Killumney and on to Ballincollig for a visit to Scoil Mhuire Girls School. Again they were not deterred by the inclement weather as they gave us a tour of their garden.
Scoil Mhuire have also installed a polytunnel with help from a LA21 grant through Cork County Council. Beetroot potatoes tomatoes and other fruit and veg are thriving in the polytunnel. Well done to all involved.

Today was the final day for judging and they definitely kept the fine wine til last in this case.
We received a great welcome from Delores Daly and the rest of the staff and pupils of St Patrick's special school . This is a little oasis of colour and food production in Rochestown and the boys and girls have learned so much about about growing fruit and vegetables. Indeed I sampled one of their fine strawberries and it passed the taste test with flying colours. The colour and art is very evident here as the children's knowledge about their garden and how it grows. Well done to everyone involved.

To all thirty seven schools visited over the last few weeks on behalf of the judging panel I would like to thank you for your kindness and the pleasant welcome bestowed on us.

Keep on Gardening

Denis Kelly

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