Pupils Grow Goodies for Charity ‘Playful Garden’

30 July 2015

In the first week of August Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital will be showcasing their ‘Playful Garden’ at Manchester’s Summer Garden Festival, Dig the City.

Edible plants for the purpose-built, multi-sensory garden have been grown by pupils at Victoria Park Infant School, Stretford who jumped at the chance to grow and give back. Following the festival the garden will be relocated to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where it will be rebuilt on the hospital’s roof top play area for all the patients to enjoy.

Green-fingered pupils of all ages have cultivated an exciting array of plants and herbs, carefully tending to the seedlings which are now ready to be replanted in the charity’s Dig the City entry. Kale, radish, lettuce and dill will stimulate with their scent, taste and tactility while colourful sunflowers will attract insects creating movement around the garden.  This sensory garden can be enjoyed by all patients, regardless of illness or disability.

The garden will be located on King Street in Manchester and has been designed by award-winning garden designer Sue Jeffries and hospital Play Leader John Smith, ensuring the hospital’s young patients are very much in mind.

John, who built his own miniature therapeutic garden on Ward 83, as well as looking after the hospital’s roof garden explains the benefits of connecting patients with nature:

“Bringing the outdoors to those in hospital gives children a sense of normality, there are also known improvements to their health. Interaction with plants, combined with getting the sun on your face, means blood pressure can drop and muscle tone improves.

Discussing plants with children provides them with a welcome distraction from their treatments; it is an ideal way to increase dialogue between staff and patients too. Parents also benefit from such gardens, providing a tranquil setting when needing to take a break from the ward.”

Sue Jeffries who last year designed the winning ‘Dig the City’ entry agrees, with this in mind, the ‘Playful Garden’ will include a train track, tunnel and miniature lake and beach and fields, which will stimulate children’s imagination as well as their senses.

Debbie Vrlec, Headteacher of Victoria Park Infant School says:

“'Victoria Park Infant School has always supported Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. Pupils understand the importance of the hospital and are aware of how they can support its work. We have thoroughly enjoyed growing the plants that will be part of the Dig the City festival. Even more importantly, the children are very excited that the plants they have grown from seeds will continue to grow and be nurtured by the patients once the planter arrives at the rooftop garden.”

The garden will be located on King Street in Manchester for the full week of the festival and is kindly supported by Revive Compost a Viridor product and Recycle for Greater Manchester (R4GM), Alison Heaton, R4GM Education Officer, says:

“We are delighted to be the sponsors of such an innovative garden project. This garden has been grown by children, for children to play in. The educational and health benefits of such a project are invaluable.”