Trees funded by The Oracle have helped to transform the playground at Redlands Primary School.
For their last term at school before breaking up for the summer pupils benefited from some exciting changes to their previously dull and uninspiring outdoor space.
Volunteers reconfigured the planters, which had contained scrubby shrubs, and painted them a bright turquoise. They then planted the trees – an Amelanchier lamarckii and an ornamental cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Tai-Haku’), quite a task due to their substantial size – then planted perennial flowering plants around them to add interest. The school caretaker will water the trees to make sure they continue to thrive throughout the summer and beyond.
Connecting children with the natural world
The project was envisaged by Stéphanie Mitchell of Friends of Redlands, the school’s parent teacher association. She has since been working with Naomi German of Erleigh Road Community Garden, also a parent at the school, to deliver the project. Friends of Redlands have crowdfunded the money for most of the other plants and materials used so far. Volunteers both from the school community and the wider community have carried out the work involved, with the support of landscape gardener Chris Cox.
The Redlands Primary playground is very urban space. Access to nature is an important part of good mental health and wellbeing, for all ages, helps with urban cooling and connects children with the natural world,” said Stéphanie.
Greening up the playground and introducing more trees became even more crucial after a really tough year. The generous funding we received from The Oracle via Trees for Reading has enabled us to purchase two trees for the entrance of the playground to replace some old shrubs. After Easter the children were greeted by the trees in full blossom and since then have been enjoying the cooling benefits that the leafy canopies bring to the playground. They have created artwork inspired by the trees and the plants underneath and enjoyed more birds, bees and butterflies in the playground.”
Head teacher Shabana Aslam added: “We are grateful for the dedication of the hardworking team of volunteers and the wonderful community of Reading, who have transformed a sparse and dull space into one that’s inviting, green and vibrant.
The children were impressed when they came back after the Easter break to see what lovely changes had been made to the school environment. You could hear them talking with excitement about how beautiful the playground was looking.
Since then I have often seen the children sitting on the planters at playtimes, talking about the changes and admiring the beautiful trees and flowers. A huge thank you to everyone involved – it has made such a difference!”
Working together to improve our local environment
Andy Briggs, General Manager for The Oracle, commented: “Helping our environment and supporting our communities is central to the sustainability strategy at The Oracle. Trees play such a vital role in our planet’s ecosystem and we are pleased to support this important project with Ethical Reading and Redlands Primary School.
The trees were partially purchased with proceeds from selling The Oracle’s very own summer honey and we are delighted that our beehives are helping to support the biodiversity of Reading. These new trees will not only enhance the playground but also support the wellbeing of the school’s children and teachers for many generations to come.”
Friends of Redlands welcome contributions to their crowdfunding campaign, which will help them do more to green the playground: www.GoFundMe.com/Redlands.