Spiritual garden created in memory of Shirley

Published on: 03 Aug 2013

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A PURPLE patch at a school in Downend is proving a haven for pupils, teachers and parents.

Shirley’s Garden was created at Christ Church Infant School in memory of a mum who died from cancer.

Co-head teacher Anna Martin said: “We wanted it to be a spiritual place where children , staff and everyone connected with the school could come to be quiet.

“School is usually so frantic. People can come here whether they have a faith or not and sit and think.” The garden has transformed a corner of the school grounds that “was supposed to be a wild garden but was really just a mess”.

At the invitation of parent and bank worker Nick Richley, volunteers from Lloyds Bank provided some funding and did some of the work.

The rest has been done by volunteer parents and friends of the school as well as pupils in the school’s gardening club.

“We are so grateful,” said Mrs Martin. “Community projects such as these cannot go ahead without goodwill and support.

“We are now appealing for local people who might be able to support us in maintaining the garden. We would love it if any gardeners who could spare a bit of time could contact me at the school.”

Lots of thought has been put into the design of the garden to include “awe and wonder” and sensory experiences.

It includes arches, a pergola, mirror balls and fruit trees as well as edible flowers and scented plants.

There is a bench dedicated to Shirley, bearing a plaque with wording chosen by her children Kaisha, nine and Kaleb, seven.

The first plants in the garden have mainly purple flowers, as this was their mummy’s favourite colour. Future plant colours will change with the seasons.

Kaisha and Kaleb, who are now at Christ Church Junior School, returned to the infant school for the garden opening ceremony. They were accompanied by their uncle and aunt, Chris and Ericka, Shirley’s brother and sister.

Kaleb cut the ribbon to launch the garden. Both children had written prayers. Kaisha read her prayer out and also performed a dance with her friend. The service also included a signing song, I Can Sing a Rainbow.

All pupils at the school had each decorated a pebble and placed it in the garden as a pledge to look after the special space and they had also decorated bunting for the surrounding fence.

Ericka said: “The garden is fantastic. Shirley would have loved it. She was a keen gardener.”

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