After much anticipation, the winners of the Kent Life Garden Awards were announced at a special ceremony at Hadlow College last week. As well as the usual highly coveted awards for Best Amateur Garden, Kentish Garden of the Year and Best Primary School Garden, two new categories sponsored by the Diocese of Canterbury were added this year: Best School Sacred Space Garden Award, and Community Garden of the Year, which was also supported by Kent God’s Acre Project and Action with Communities in Rural Kent.
Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, Director of the Communities and Partnerships Framework for the Diocese; Ronni Lamont, Faith and Nurture Adviser; and Niki Paterson, Deputy Director of Education were delighted to be announce that St. Martin’s Church of England School in Folkestone was the winner of the Best School Sacred Space Garden Award.
The area known as the “Quiet Garden” in the life of St Martin’s is an essential space for the whole school community as there is little green space within the school boundaries. The garden was begun five years ago and has become an area that has become important in the school’s life as different spaces offer different things.
The maintenance of the garden is by the “Greenfingers” club which is organised by the school caretaker which is heavily oversubscribed, so there is also a Nature club. Both clubs encourage the children to be involved in the care and maintenance of the garden, while marvelling at the insects, birds and animals that are attracted by this habitat they have created.
Additional to providing reflection and quiet space, the garden has enabled the school community to incorporate it in aspects of the curriculum such as a special St Martin’s week and each class created ideas for prayer and reflection such as crosses, prayer pots and value pebbles.
Runners-up prizes were also given to Kingsnorth C of E Primary School and Goudhurst and Kilndown C of E Primary School.
The Abbey Physic Garden in Faversham was presented the winning prize for the Community Garden of the Year Award. At a time when mental health services are stretched, the Abbey Physic Garden was praised for demonstrating the positive effect that working in gardens has on people with mental health issues and beyond. As a walled garden, it provides a warm, secure place to grow fruit, flowers, vegetables and the confidence of those that use it.
Congratulations also went to runners-up St. Luke’s churchyard in Matfield, and the churchyard of St. Laurence in Leaveland.
Full coverage and photos of the winning gardens can be seen in the next edition of Kent Life magazine which will be in shops from 22 September.