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2024 Pocket Garden winners announced

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2024 annual Pocket Garden Design Competition in partnership with the Garden for Life Forum.

Nursery and school pupils, aged three to 18, were invited to design a miniature pocket-sized garden inspired by nature’s engineers such as birds, beavers or bees which includes food for people, is good for wildlife and reuses something.

Thirty finalists were chosen after we received more than 100 entries from 19 local authority areas. Those schools built and grew their gardens to appear in the national online showcase.

The following gardens were voted by the public as their favourite after thousands of votes were received.

Primary 1-3 at Leverhulme Memorial School, in the Western Isles, was selected as the winner for Beataidh Banrigh (Super-Bee). The children were inspired by the story of a Great Yellow Bumblebee who lives on an island just like theirs and is one of the UK's rarest species of bumblebee.  A mini Hebridean taigh dubh or black house with a machair roof nestles among bee-friendly plants like white and red clovers, yarrow and nettles.  The house represents the need for suitable housing for great yellow bumblebees, as they re-use old mouse nests, rabbit burrows and other holes under grass tussocks as nest sites, making the most of other natural engineers’ work.

Redwell Primary School in Clackmannanshire finished second with Bee-ing an Engineer. Human engineers use teamwork and good communication to solve problems and so do bees. This is reflected in this design, for example, when a hive gets too warm, bees use their wings as fans to circulate cooler air, so the children created mini fans that move in the breeze. A bee skep is surrounded by a ring of hexagonal containers each one dedicated to an aspect of bees and providing bee friendly food and shelter.

In third place was P5-7 at Leverhulme Memorial School with Beart a Chlo Mhor (Harris Tweed loom garden). This 'Harris Tweed Loom' design brilliantly links local heritage with nature's weavers. The pupils used plants of different colours to create a woven pattern. Edible plants such as radish, kale, chard and salads were grown and items from a beach clean were re-used in the garden. Pupils are teamed up with local businesses too to learn more about organic and regenerative farming and to utilise waste coffee grounds. Lots of tasty ideas here!

The competition judges selected three gardens as the most successful transformation from design to real garden for each of the three themes; Nature’s Engineers, One Planet Picnic, and Wildlife Gardening. These schools received certificates of achievement.

Nature’s Engineers – Burrow and Nest by St Andrew’s Primary School P5-7, Midlothian. This whole garden is bordered by sticks and twigs to form a large nest.  Inside the nest is a wildflower meadow and a wee burrow that leads to a den. Pots and planters curated to look like many more bird nests for herbs and flowers to grow. The judges loved the focus on using natural materials to create a stunning space that almost looks lifted from nature.

Wildlife Gardening – Killermont Primary School, East Dunbartonshire. Pupils used their design skills to divert rain water to their new wetland garden. It pays homage to beavers as the masters of wetland engineering and features their own beaver dam that doubles as a home for insects.  The location and structure of this garden also helps to slow the flow of rainwater in heavy rain events to reduce flooding. It demonstrates a great way to adapt to our changing climate.

One Planet Picnic – Rephad Primary School, Dumfries and Galloway. A beaver dam holds back this garden, overflowing with wildlife friendly planting. A floral planet made from two hanging baskets is suspended above a nest woven from local willow and dogwood stems. The nest is planted up with nectar-rich flowers for pollinators including iris, cornflower and calendula. Hexagonal planting of edibles such as peas, rocket, chives and chard prepares the ground for a tasty picnic.

Eve Keepax, our Senior Education and Learning Officer, said: “Every year we are delighted to receive wonderfully inventive and creative Pocket Garden designs and this year was no different.

“This year’s theme of Nature’s Engineering provided a platform for children across the country to use their imagination to create exceptional designs to support our precious wildlife and its visitors.

“The 30 selected design winners did a fantastic job bringing these garden ideas to life and the sheer number of votes we received shows how much the public enjoyed them too.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took part for creating these magical designs, and say a huge congratulations to all our winners. I’m already looking forward to next year’s competition.”

The Pocket Garden Design Competition aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Four, Learning for Sustainability, and is run as part of our Climate Action Schools framework. It gives pupils and educators a creative focus for learning for sustainability, STEM skills, and the Curriculum for Excellence while learning more about the climate and nature emergencies and having fun learning outdoors.

Further information and inspiration from past years can be found on our Pocket Garden page.

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02 July 2024

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