Redwood School’s lower sixth plant sensory garden at Hopwood Hall Estate as part of John Muir Award

Date published: 01 May 2022

Eight students from Redwood School have planted a sensory garden at the Hopwood Hall Estate in Middleton on Thursday 28 April.

The lower sixth form students, aged 16-19, from the Skills for Independence Department visited as part of their studies to obtain the John Muir Award, an environmental award scheme focused on wild places.

Participants “Discover, explore, conserve and share, a wild place” whist encouraging awareness and responsibility for the natural environment in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

The visit was organised by teacher Amanda Milston, who chose Hopwood Hall Estate as an example of a wild place for the project study as it also has the advantage of being local to the students.

Having researched the history of the Grade-II* listed hall, originally built in 1426 for the Hopwood family, the students were shown around the gardens by The Hopwood Foundation Friends (formerly the Friends of Hopwood Hall Estate), led by volunteer Geraldine Connor.

Together they planted a sensory garden – designed to stimulate the five basic senses of sight, smell, sound, touch and taste –.in a specially-prepared raised bed.

Plants included velvety lamb’s ears, plus deliciously scented herbs such as mint, lemon balm, curry plants, rosemary and thyme, plus calming lavender and colourful cornflowers.


Students from the lower sixth form at Redwood planted up a sensory garden at Hopwood Hall Estate


The students also planted a variety of bright blooms in a second raised bed, having successfully propagated the plants from seed in February. This bed consisted of sunflowers, nasturtiums, sweet peas, pansies and candy tufts.

Following their visit, the students, who are also working towards gaining their Duke of Edinburgh Silver awards, gave a presentation to the rest of the sixth form – the ‘share’ aspect of the John Muir Award.

Teacher Amanda Milston said: "My students had a wonderful time. They really enjoyed the gardening and looking at the hall. They all showed a real interest in everything that was being done to renovate the hall. They worked really well to plant the plants and flowers and lay out the fairy garden, and made sure everything was done well.

"Gerry and the team very kindly put on juice and cakes and set it all on a beautifully laid table for us all. My class loved this. They enjoyed meeting Hopwood and everyone and asked lots of questions.

"The volunteers work so hard to make the grounds look beautiful but I am also so moved by how they went above and beyond to support my students. I am so grateful that they helped provide such a lovely opportunity for my class.

"We hope to visit again in the future and see how our plants have grown." 


Students from the lower sixth form at Redwood planted up a sensory garden at Hopwood Hall Estate


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