Essex Can Do and Market Field School Courtyard: Part Three

25 January 2019

By Leanne

As the trees changed colour in late autumn and excitement about Christmas began, work on the courtyards slowly got underway with the walls being painted in Jasmine White. It’s a softer white that won’t dazzle in the sun and it perfectly complements the slate grey of one of the walls.

I also met with a local artist to talk about painting a woodland mural on the back wall of the upper courtyard for the Zen area and the outdoor classroom. He is kindly donating some of his time to the project and will start the mural after Easter when the weather is mild and dry.

Bringing the outdoors in

The plan is to create a woodland scene that shows the seasons changing from spring to winter across the wall with lots of wildlife present so students can learn about the countryside.

A painting of a bird with two photos of birds below

As the courtyards are such a concrete space, wall murals are key in bringing the outdoors into the space and closer to the students.

The students have been busy painting wooden birds to decorate the courtyards with.

We’ve got some flashcards of the different hedgerow birds to students can not only learn about them but paint more realistic birds.

Just in time for the Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of January! Creativity was in abundance and one young lady painted a Black Finch which is a black bird crossed with a green finch.

We have also been painting some fabulous laser-cut butterflies of different shapes and sizes to fasten to the planters. These will look fabulous on the garden trellises!

Getting ready for spring

This week the students will be painting wooden planters in a range of blue shades which will further compliment the slate grey, blue and white colour scheme. They’ll be tackling the task of lining out the planters and then setting them aside for planting in spring time.

painting of a butterfly

As the weather improves, we will be deciding what vegetables and flowers we would like to plant. I’ll be arranging for a gardener to help choose the right plants for the different areas of the courtyards and to facilitate planting sessions with the students.

It’s important that the plants and vegetables don’t need a lot of maintenance as the school is closed over the school holidays. We’re thinking strawberries, raspberries, marigolds and daffodils to begin with!

Courtyards are coming to life

There are still lots of other exciting items to get for the courtyards, for example, waterproof educational boards showing different British flowers, trees, birds and animals.

There will also be a sand pit for sensory play and the students will help make different sensory boards for the walls. Not to mention too all the hand tools, watering cans, seed trays, aprons and gardening gloves needed!

After a long winter, it finally feels like the courtyards are coming to life and we’re all excited by the prospect of better weather so we can really pull together the different elements to create a wonderful space to be enjoyed by all.

Leanne is a Can Do Programme Coordinator in Essex.

Our Can Do Gardening projects are funded by National Garden Scheme.

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