The St Andrews Botanic Garden, owned by the University of St Andrews and managed by Fife Council, plays a big part in providing not only a delightful garden, and glasshouses full of rare plants to wander around in, but education classes all year round for schools. The children also get hands-on experience of propagating of plants, creating worm houses, pond dipping, learning about the life of bees – Fife beekeepers keep some beehives there. On Saturdays a junior hortus club is held, which has proved very popular over the years. An Open Day is held once a year with many activities for all the family to enjoy, such as willow weaving and apple pressing being demonstrated. The Friends of the Botanic Garden, a voluntary group, grow and propagate many thousands of plants for sale each year to help fund the garden, their annual bedding plant sale alone raises over £5000. Lectures are organised each month and are free to the general public, on a wide variety of subjects.
Our local schools encourage their pupils to get involved in numerous activities involving gardening and maintaining an eco-friendly environment. We currently have 6 eco flagged schools in the area The children in Canongate Primary School eco club have recently been presented with John Muir awards of excellence.
Many of the schools have taken advantage of the RHS gardening schemes and free seeds. St Andrews in Bloom applied for free wildflower seeds and planted a wildflower garden with the help of the Madras Eco club at the front of Madras College, the secondary school in South Street. This club have also been active in the fruit tree planting at Stanks Park, and the Jubilee Wood. Rebecca Grogan, a first year pupil at Madras, is in the list of the top 15 eco-friendly 11- 25 year olds in Scotland.
The Bloom group has been working with the Canongate Primary School eco-gardening club , at their sensory garden. This was created from reclaimed woodland, and the Community Payback scheme have been extremely helpful in rotovating the area and clearing it of nettles. Over the summer of 2012, they will put in some much needed field drains as some areas are very boggy. A stage was built to be used as an outdoor class room , and the children collected hundreds of drinks cans and recycled them into planting beds . They also all took part in making wind chimes from all kinds of materials to represent the senses. We have donated plants for their smell, taste and touch section, and will continue to help them with this worthy project in the autumn. The school also holds a very successful seed swap day , and the seeds left over are used in the school garden. The Morrison supermarkets recent school gardening campaign enabled the school to purchase new tools, gloves, containers ,fencing and wooden sleepers for a vegetable garden. The Bloom group collected hundreds of vouchers and donated them to the school.
We have also helped out with the Lawhead Primary School garden and donated plants to their projects to encourage pollinating insects to the garden.
Last autumn (2012) we worked with both of these schools in planting a field of daffodils in support of cancer charities, a very worthwhile project for all concerned.