A Secret Garden for kids and bees

Amelia Collins

11 August 2014

Getting buzzy with school children in Battersea.

Create a Bee World

I love getting out and about with my camera in the summer. And what a phenomenal summer we’re having. Not just because the weather has been ace, but because of our Bee Worlds. What are they? Former barren bits of land that are now blooming with a blaze of colour and activity. 

So it was that last week, I found myself pedalling through the hazy afternoon heat to a mystery location in Battersea. I was due to photograph Christ Church CE Primary School’s Secret Garden. How do you find a secret garden? “It’s not straightforward. It’s called the secret garden for a reason” Head Teacher, Colette Morris, had replied. I felt like I was back at school already. 

I momentarily lost myself in the back streets of Clapham Junction – I’m a photographer not a postie – before finally braving a call to the head teacher. Thankfully she appeared out of a black gate in the distance and welcomed me with open arms.

I’d found the secret garden. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Walking through the gate felt like walking into the pages of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book and I wasn’t disappointed with what greeted me the other side. 

The place was abuzz with children scurrying around watering every bed. I was amazed. This was the first week of the school holidays. Colette told me she is there every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during the holidays and much to her surprise the garden is always “a hive of activity”.

The Secret Garden used to be a disused allotment before the school got permission from the council to convert it to a community garden with the help of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening in 2010. While I was there we harvested the cauliflowers. The kids clearly love being able to take the veg home with them.  

Although the fruit rarely seems to make it out of the garden before being eaten.

In 2014 the school planted 2 wildflower beds with the help of seeds from Friends of the Earth’s bee world project. 

The kids were much better than me at spotting bees. 

Colette says the teachers and kids have been using the Friends of the Earth bee guide wall chart to learn which bees have been visiting the garden, including this little honey bee the kids found for me during my visit.  

The kids were lining up to show me all the insects they could find. Caterpillars proved to be the most abundant.

I’m now hoping to persuade Colette and her kids to take part in our Great British Bee Count.

Colette admitted that she knew nothing about gardening or bees to start off with. Although she has trouble persuading others that she learnt everything as she went along. The garden looks too professional for a novice. 

For me the Secret Garden really was an inspiration that any of us can start a bee world. So why not have a go yourself

Amelia Collins, Creative Communications team

Create a Bee World

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