This article was originally published in the Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn Newsletter in March 2018. It has been republished on the Greener Tywyn Gwyrdd website with the express permission of the school and John Waddington.
You will probably recall that in February 2014, one of our biggest Cedar trees came down during very high winds and I’m sure that it will not have escaped your attention that 3 more of our ‘sentinel’ trees have fallen casualty to the easterly winds of storm Emma, which has hauled them from the earth by their roots.
Trees generally outlive us, and because they are fixed and emanate a sense of permanence, we actually feel a deep sense of loss now that they have fallen and will no longer be a part of the school’s landscape. It is worth remembering the service that our ‘soldiers’ have provided during their lifetime: oxygen, recycling water and regulating humidity, controlling air pollution, producing protein, providing shelter for wildlife and fertilizing the soil. For all of this, we are grateful and we are looking to the future and planning for further environmental sustainability.
At Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn, we pride ourselves on our nurturing skills; we like to plant the seeds and provide the support system for growth in educational development and extra-curricular activities to help pupils reach their full potential – a full-time but worthwhile commitment. So our exciting plans for an orchard garden have been centred on ‘low maintenance – high yield’! Hopefully not only will the orchard supply fresh food but also inspiration for the pupils and staff to enjoy.
The planned orchard garden, designed by John Waddington with careful consideration to many environmental aspects – as you will see below – will hopefully contain the following trees, plants, fruits, herbs and vegetables:
- Apple, pear, cherry and plum trees: Fruit bushes and trees will provide fresh, healthy food, habitat for wildlife and a harmonic space for inspiration.
- Leeks, onions, garlic (and/or chives): These act as grass suppressors without competing with the trees for nutrients and will provide a useful, edible yield.
- Fennel, rosemary, oregano/marjoram, and coriander: These act as pollinator ‘attractors’ at the same time as providing beneficial edible herbs.
- Nasturtiums: An edible flower, nasturtiums will act to repel pest insect species.
- Artichokes and rhubarb: These will provide mulching which will suppress weeds and grass at the same time as providing an edible crop.
- Dandelion and comfrey: These are deep root accumulators that will supply valuable nutrients (that would otherwise be beyond the reach of the other root systems) to the surface and act as pollinator attractors.
- Strawberries, wild strawberries, clover and mint: These will provide fruit, attract pollinators and suppress grass and ivy growth.
- Also: 3 seating areas with table and possible rain/ sun canopy to enhance the space to encourage interaction and participation from students and staff and also to act as a possible outside classroom; paths made from locally sourced chipped bio-mass; a living fence of willow with sage bushes might also be included on the north east edge to act as a wind barrier.
Phase 2 will be the design of the raised beds as a possible herb garden.
John Waddington has taken much time and consideration in planning and drawing up (photo below) our proposed orchard – all for free and his love of the gardening ethos and environment. We hope you will also consider supporting our school in this exciting venture. Due to increasingly restricted budgets, we are very limited in purchasing educational resources for within the classrooms, never mind the outside learning spaces.
We hope we have propagated some interest and look forward to hearing from you – we would really appreciate any support! We will shortly be introducing a ‘Sponsor a Tree’ scheme – watch this space!