East Finchley School wins RHS Garden Design Competition for London

  • Bishop Douglass Catholic School wins the Royal Horticultural Society’s Green Plan It Challenge to design a new school or community garden
  • Ten-week project aimed at inspiring the next generation of young horticulturists and backed by industry professionals hosted by Capel Manor College
  • Alperton Community School, La Retraite RC Girls’ School and Hornsey School for Girls also scoop top awards
Team ‘JAMPSS’ from Bishop Douglass School with their award
Team ‘JAMPSS’ from Bishop Douglass School with their award


Model of their design
Model of their design

A team-of-six from Bishop Douglass Catholic School in East Finchley has created the winning garden design in the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Green Plan It Challenge for London, hosted by Capel Manor College.

The ten-week challenge saw over seventy green-fingered 12 to 14 year-olds tasked with developing a design for a new school or community garden, working alongside professional garden designers, landscape architects and other horticultural industry insiders.

The students presented their imaginative 3D design for a new ‘Beautiful and Beneficial’ school garden for judging at Capel’s Enfield Centre on Wednesday (13 December), competing against 11 other school teams from across the capital.

Their design included many areas for the students to relax in, including plants with sensory, therapeutic, wildlife-friendly and air cleaning properties.

Led by students, the challenge encouraged pupils to consider the benefits of communal green spaces and explore environmental issues while developing leadership, teamwork and creative skills.
Dr Sue Williams at Bishop Douglass Catholic School said: “What a transformation ten weeks can make! From very simple or no gardening knowledge, our six students have grown and developed in a wonderful way.

“Our mentor Dave Hine, a landscape architect at Thomson Ecology, passed over his enthusiasm and mastery to them, and they have begun to play and run with ideas beyond their years. They are now so excited about design and growing, and can’t wait to start putting their design into reality.”
Three other schools walked away with top prizes. Alperton Community School in Wembley scooped the most innovative design award for their rooftop garden at Alperton underground station to supply the local community with fruit, vegetables and soup. La Retraite RC Girls’ School in Clapham Park were awarded the best teamwork award, while students voted Hornsey School for Girls’ garden as their favourite design.

This is the second year that the RHS has run the Green Plan It Challenge with nearly 1,000 young people taking part across eight regional hubs, from Edinburgh to Bristol.

Speaking about the project, RHS Head of Community Outreach, Andrea Van-Sittart said: “The Green Plan It Challenge is designed to support young people to develop a host of new skills including teamwork, creativity and problem-solving, and, we hope to inspire some future Alan Titchmarshs and Monty Dons.

“All of the entries reveal an understanding of the important role that gardens can play both in terms of providing space to work and reflect and as a home for wildlife and the plants they rely on. We’d love to see some of these gardens come to fruition as we set about greening our grey Britain.”

Challenge competitors attending the final event also heard from Robert Brett, Curator at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, who inspired the students by talking about the huge range of exciting career possibilities in horticulture.

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