Rachel Borrows, School Horticulturist, has begun working with the children to promote sustainable garden practice and provide an appreciation of our school’s biodiversity.


9th July 2021

This week the Year 5s were able to enjoy the fruits of their labour by harvesting their peas! We sowed them all the way back in March – the very first crop of this year to be sowed. The children were very excited to find out how many peas were in each pod; the record was set at ten and a half! And they all enjoyed eating these little green sweeties straight from the plant!
Elsewhere in the De Beer garden, the French beans are maturing nicely and should still be cropping on our return in September, and the pollinator bed has really filled out, with achillea, buddleja, erigeron, salvias and verbena all in flower. The other plants will come into flower later in the summer to extend the season, ensuring the supply of nectar and pollen for as long as possible into the autumn months.
The Year 2s made their first contribution to the Prep veggie patch this week as they brought their pumpkin seedlings up with them to Mrs Everist as part of their transition morning. We hope that their little plants will grow and flourish, just like them, in their new home!
In the Pre-Prep garden the Year 1s were amazed to find new little strawberry plants growing on long ‘arms’ stretching out from the mature plants in their patch. We have pegged these runners down into pots filled with compost so that hopefully they take root to form strong new plants that we can plant out in September, thereby populating the school grounds with our own home-grown strawberry plants!
As we leave school for the summer, we can take a moment to appreciate the beautiful plants that have grown for us this year. The lovely wildflower area on the main drive outside the music block, that Sue Glossop painstakingly added hundreds of plug plants to back in the spring, is looking glorious and is full of bees!
We look forward to seeing how everything has grown and changed on our return in the new academic year – and don’t worry – there is a dedicated team of waterers to see the plants through the summer break!

2nd July 2021

This week Years 3, 4 and 5 have been busy designing their own bee friendly gardens for Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge competition. The winning design will be made into a real garden and installed at an NHS Trust site to be enjoyed by children at the hospital. The children have learnt about what bees need from a garden (food, water and shelter) and have visited the different garden areas at Vinehall for ideas and inspiration.

The Year 8s have been making labels for the apple trees that they planted earlier in the year, to commemorate their time at Vinehall. Many thanks to Ollie Dorman for helping them to complete their designs. The orchard is looking lovely at the moment with the grasses and wild flowers being left to grow and flower, attracting many bees and butterflies!

25th June 2021

This week in the Pre-Prep the lettuces are looking delicious, ready for their first tasting.
The pollinator bed in the De Beer garden is coming into flower, providing any passing bees with a welcome meal. Maybe some will even choose to stay and set up home in our bee hotel that we have ready to install.
We have also planted out the tomato and courgette plants that were generously donated by the local charity Hands of Hope as part of their ‘Get Growing’ scheme. Thanks to Aly O’Sullivan for coordinating this. The tomato and courgettes have been added to the Pre-Prep bee garden as both can be pollinated by bees. Tomato plants in particular rely on bumble bees to pollinate them.

18th June 2021

Everything has been growing well in the Vinehall gardens this week thanks to the warm weather and rain. The runner beans that the Year 1s planted in the Pre-Prep garden have germinated already;  Year 5’s peas in the De Beer garden have some promising looking pods on them; and our new vegetable beds received their first plants which the children have grown themselves from seed – the Year 3’s pumpkins and the Year 4’s sweetcorn.

The Pre-Prep enjoyed their first harvest of radishes! Like Maisie Monkey, they were all very good at trying something new by tasting them. There was a mixed response, with some children not convinced, but others ate lots.

11th June 2021

Our reception class have created their very own bee garden to support their classroom learning topic. We planted some bee friendly flowers, sowed some wildflower seeds and also made a bee drinking station using a shallow dish filled with pebbles so that our bees can safely quench their thirst without the risk of drowning in deep water.
We noticed that bees are already happily using the Pre-Prep garden, visiting our flowering herbs and also the beautiful alliums in the Year 2 bed.

21st May 2021

This week there has been a lot of horticultural activity in our courtyard garden.  Year 5’s peas have been given some twiggy supports to climb up as they are growing nice and strongly now.  Our first tender crops, the dwarf green beans that 5F sowed back in March, have been planted out and, because they were sown in biodegradable newspaper pots that we made, we were able to plant them pot and all!

To complement the drought tolerant Mediterranean herbs that were planted a few weeks ago, we now also have some herbs that prefer slightly damper, cooler conditions such as mint and parsley growing happily in their separate bed.  And finally the Year 3s took part in the Open Week activity, focussing on sustainable horticulture by planting up a pollinator bed consisting of drought tolerant perennials. They learnt about the different adaptations that flowers have to suit different types of pollinators, and that therefore it is important to grow a variety of flower shapes and forms to support as many different pollinating insects as possible.

14th May 2021

Now that the weather has warmed up a bit, the Pre-Prep have been busy sowing some vegetables that are quick to mature, such as radishes and lettuce, so that we can hopefully harvest them before the end of term. We were very excited to see that already some seedlings are starting to appear!

7th May 2021

The first buds on the new apple trees have broken out into blossom. Do take a stroll down by the astro to see them.  The soil has arrived to fill the new vegetable beds and they are beginning to look nearly ready to receive their first plants. We just need to get the rabbit proof fence up to stop our furry little friends feasting on them all.

30th April 2021

This week the children have been learning about the adaptations of drought tolerant plants, and how to identify some of the flora and fauna found within the school grounds.

Sustainable Steps Started

Identifying trees by their leaves

The children used an identification wheel to compare leaf shapes and identify some of the many species of trees in the Vinehall grounds.

Pond Dipping

The Year 4 children visited the Vinehall pond armed with nets and buckets to see what they could find.

Herb Planting

Filling the fixed beds in the newly refurbished De Beer garden was the perfect opportunity for the children to smell, taste and touch different herbs.