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London schoolchildren go potty over planting

by Rose Crompton

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Chris Collins (left) and David Lewis (right) with children from Barlby Primary School

More than 30 schoolchildren gathered at London’s glamorous Kensington Roof Gardens this week for some springtime fun with bulbs.

Planting spring blooms such as tulips, hyacinths, irises, narcissi and calla lilies in pots, children from a local nursery and a nearby primary school were encouraged to have fun and get mucky during an exciting workshop that showed them how to quickly make a pretty display for their house or garden.

Under the expert instruction of Kensington Roof Gardens Head Gardener David Lewis, and Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, the children from Golborne Children’s Centre and Barlby Primary School learnt how to handle the plants and what it meant to tease out the roots.

Jacqueline Doornekamp from the Flower Council of Holland who helped to organise the event said: “The goal of today, and the main aim of the FCH, is to show people the wonderment of flowers and there’s no better way to do that than through the eyes of a child.”

“You could see how enthusiastic the kids were and that they really loved working with the bulbs; they enjoyed getting their hands dirty and touching and smelling the flowers,” she said.

This sentiment was shared by David Lewis who said: “It’s great! We’ve got lots of really happy children here. They’ve taken the time to decorate their pots – provided before today – and now they’ve instantly got a result by planting flower bulbs. I hope they take away an understanding of gardening from this.”

Although it was a lot of fun, there was also an added competitive element as VIP guest Chris Collins was tasked with the difficult job of picking six winners once all of the potted displays had been completed. “Judging today was almost impossible,” admitted Chris. “I tried to base it on the quality of the planting and the winners were the ones that listened to my tips about spacing the plants and leaving room for a watering gap around the rim of the pot,” he said.

Fortunately there were no tears after the winners were announced and every child left with a smile on their face and a beautiful potted plant display to brighten up an otherwise grey day.

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