A primary school transforms its grounds and brings together a community

young woman and young girl sowing planters from tyresCatherine McKendry talks about the success of ‘Dunclug Grow Wild’, a wildflower planting project in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. 

I began my second year of placement at Dunclug Primary School with no idea about the exciting project that was set to unfold in front of me. It all started when a certain email arrived.

School is maybe not everyone’s favourite place to go to, however I believe that with a warm, bright and friendly atmosphere, that can all change. So, where better to start than outside the building with some wildflowers! 

After I received a phone call from Stephanie at Grow Wild confirming that we would be getting funding, it was time to sit down with our Parents and Teachers Association and plan how wildflowers were going to create a place that would make everyone smile whenever they saw it.

There were so many ideas that it was difficult deciding what to do with our budget. However, after a walk around the school we decided on the key areas that needed some colour. A lot of time, research and containers later, we had a vision of exactly what we wanted to achieve. 

Catherine with her planters made from old tyres

I have learned from this project that you need a team to make it happen, and I love how it brought our school family together. We had our older pupils spray painting tyres, younger pupils laying the soil and planting seeds, and parents coming along to help whenever they were needed. It was often messy and occasionally wet, but we all had so much fun, while also promoting outdoor learning.

Two young people in face masks spray painting tyresTwo of the students helping to paint the planters

We also had fantastic support from our local community, and it was great that we could support local businesses when developing our project.  A local mechanic donated tyres, we had three large containers made by a local gardener and we bought our seeds from EcoSeeds, all here in Northern Ireland.  We have all learned that shopping local is best, and it made our project a lot less stressful.

What an amazing year it has been. We are all so happy with how it has all turned out. We never imagined what could be achieved with some containers, tyres, spray paint and wildflower seeds.  Our school grounds look completely different! Our project may have come to an end for the year but ‘Dunclug Grow Wild’ will continue as we wait for the wildflower seeds to grow.  We cannot wait!

A row of colourful hanging planters on a school fence

If you want to create a wildflower patch this Autumn sign up today to find out how!