Our school has worked very hard to create different gardens located on the school grounds. Read more about each garden below. Every year we organise a garden competition.
In 1995, a beautiful garden was developed at the front of the school. Over the years it had matured and was always commented on by visitors and locals alike. Unfortunately, it had to be removed when our extension commenced in 2013. We were very determined to return the front of the school to its former beauty when the extension was completed in June 2014.
With lots of good advice from Rachel Doyle, of Arboretum Garden Centre, we set to work. Her advice included to use good topsoil, some of our own compost, beautiful shrubs, trees and flowers and bark mulch. Parents were on hand to ensure everything was finished in time. Grass was rolled out on the area outside the school wall – late on the night before the official opening! We were blessed with really heavy rain that night which ensured the grass grew!
It was decided to place a granite stone in the front garden and to have it inscribed with the school name and other relevant information. This stone was kindly donated to the school and it was put in place literally hours before Bishop Denis Nulty arrived to bless the new extension and officially open it.
The Green Schools programme requires involvement from the whole school community and the wider community in order to protect the environment for future generations.
Our cottage garden is located on a bank at the rear of the school, which already had a selection of native trees. It is a garden for all seasons with daffodils, snowdrops, tulips, primroses and crocuses and heathers in plentiful supply in spring. There are lupins, roses, daisies, etc. on display in summer. In Autumn the children can observe and collect fruits from the horse chestnut and hazelnut trees. It is a wonderful resource, particularly for developing elements of the science and geography curriculum.
Children, parents and teachers were involved in developing the cottage garden. Many evenings were spent digging, planting and nurturing the new plants and putting in pathways. We planted the lower level with spring bulbs– some of them in tractor tyres. We also planted wildflower seeds in tractor tyres on the upper bank. Old style cottage garden plants were sown in tyres below the pathway. The pupils had a great time spreading the stones on top of it.
In 2011 a local horticulturalist advised us to sow mini roses on the upper bank and cottage garden flowers in the lower area.
Now the children can learn about and enjoy traditional plants and flowers as they enjoy watching the seasonal changes in the trees and plants.
There was so much interest in growing vegetables in all the classes that we made three more – giving each classroom a raised bed.
We sow lettuce, turnip and carrot seeds in bio-degradable pots in the classroom and transplant them into the raised beds. We also sow peas, beans, onions, parsnips, strawberries and potatoes in barrels beside the beds. To protect the plants from the colder air outside we cover the beds with a polythene cover. We use the compost from our own compost bins for our raised beds.
Early in 2011 we made a pond in the school grounds to enable pupils to investigate a water habitat. Previously we had taken the senior pupils down to the River Derry, with personnel from the Fisheries Board, as part of the Something Fishy project, but this could not be done on our own. An undeveloped area beside the classrooms was selected as the ideal spot.
Our budget was limited to our prize money from Carlow Co. Council for the Floral Pride Competition. We invited parents to help in the school garden, and from that a group formed who would develop the pond. All work was voluntary.
Digging out the pond was completed in one evening. The soil removed was built into a rockery and different rocks were added, including igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Plants were sown among the rocks.
It took several hours to fill it using a hose-pipe. The small waterfall with the sound of flowing water is now very peaceful. The stone work around it was built.
We employed Pond Safety Ireland to fit a safety panel over our pond. It now is a beautiful peaceful work of art where pupils can study a water habitat, rocks and interesting plants.