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Schools in Bloom - hear from the Judges

The 2022 Schools In Bloom competition has now been launched and we are inviting schools across the borough of Guildford to submit their entry forms by 22 May 2022 and to set about involving their pupils in designing and growing a garden on the theme of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

We are Shirley and Caroline = the school judging team – and we cannot wait for the very busy week in June when we visit all the schools who have submitted entries.

We get a huge buzz from judging the schools and love seeing the children waiting for us when we arrive. They are so excited to show us their gardens, the hard work and the knowledge they have gained from their gardening clubs, their teachers and some schools are lucky to have some parents that help too.

We are really looking forward to seeing lots of red, white and blue and of course purple which is the official Platinum Jubilee colour. The theme can be interpreted in the colours of the plants but also the planters used, and decorations in the garden – any planters that have been repurposed from other items will certainly catch our eye! (We will judge up to 4 containers). Shirley in particular is so excited about this theme and is looking forward to seeing lots of different ideas.

We will be looking for the quality of the plants in the school garden and want to hear about their care. We love to hear that the pupils do the weeding and watering. Of course, we will also be looking at the overall impression of the garden.

We find judging the schools the highlight of our year. In previous years, schools have scored highly when the children are completely engaged in the garden and can talk to us about what they are growing and tell us about it.

Last year, we discovered some pupils who had made their own fertiliser from nettles – the smell was disgusting, but there was no denying it worked as the plants were very healthy and the vegetables plentiful.

We will also be looking for signs that your school encourages wildlife. Bug hotels and Bee hotels are a great way of doing this and its even better when its evident that the pupils have built them! Bird Houses and Bird Feeders are also easy to do and encourage lots of wildlife to visit. We love to see flowers and plants attracting bees too! If the pupils have knowledge of the benefit of worms in the garden, ladybirds, and other bugs – well that would be a special point. On the subject of creatures – a school we visited last year had chickens!

Extra special points are up for grabs when there is evidence that gardening has permeated through the school into lots of different lessons, such as art and craft (which is a good way of interpreting the theme). Bug hotels and bird boxes can be made in craft lessons. There are inexpensive kits available to buy online or turn it into an exercise in recycling and you will find many ideas on sites such as Pinterest. Garden planning can also be discussed in maths to plan how many plants you need.

We love to see vegetables and herbs being grown and this is even better if it is harvested and eaten by the pupils, linking to healthy eating and where our food comes from.

As judges we love seeing the scrap books the schools produce which show the planning and discussions put into their garden and highlight the imaginative ways the teachers weave gardening into the curriculum – we are always so impressed by this – we get an insight into the learning activities the classes do that relate to school gardening and how the whole school gets involved.

With both Schools in Bloom and the main Guildford in Bloom gardening competition we aim to promote eco-friendly horticultural practices, so you will get extra points if you can demonstrate that your garden is peat-free. Having your very own compost heap is also a vote winner.

Now that we are looking to combat climate change this is a wonderful chance for all the schools to teach the children how important it is to learn about what we are growing, planting and eating and we the judges have seen what you can do – even in small spaces.

We really hope every school in the borough will enter – and if this is your first time, then we have included a list of very helpful links on our website – including The Queen’s Green Canopy – Plant a Tree for the Jubilee with the Woodland Trust.

So come on schools - please enter Guildford in Bloom - we cannot wait to meet you and judge your school.

Shirley and Caroline

School Judging Team

You can download an entry form from our Schools Page:

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