BUDDING young gardeners are being given the task of highlighting the “Great” in Great Britain as they create their entries for this year’s School Gardens Challenge at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Malvern Spring Festival.

Fourteen schools, including eight from Worcestershire, are taking part in the event which is one of the star attractions at the show at the Three Counties Showground from Thursday May 10 to Sunday May 13.

This year they have been invited to design a garden telling the story of an inspiring person, organisation, group, event or invention that demonstrated what is great about Britain.

The young gardeners are being mentored by BBC Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, who is heading up the School Gardens Challenge for the fifth time. He is advising on the best plants to grow and how to design a garden. The event is being supported by Nationwide Building Society and BAM Construction which is helping the students with the landscaping aspect of their designs.

The schools from Worcestershire taking part are Cherry Orchard Primary School; Tudor Grange Academy; Bredon School, Bushley; Malvern Wells Church of England Primary School; the Royal Grammar School, Worcester; St Nicholas Church of England Middle School, Pinvin; Pinvin First School and Himbleton First School near Worcester. The last three in the list are submitting a joint entry.

The Key Stage 2 pupils from Cherry Orchard chose the armed forces as the focus for their garden. Called Forces of Nature, the garden reflects the pupils’ gratitude for the British military and the long term defence of the country, enabling it to remain free.

The garden begins with sandy, coastal planting to reflect coastal defences and set the foundations of the garden much as the D Day landings were a foundation for the allied victory in World War II. Cargo netting climbers then lead the viewer through to ‘cloud-like’ grasses to represent the air force circling overhead. Planters to represent the RAF and Royal Navy bring in the red, white and blue before an Anderson shelter and a clay poppy garden remind us of the battles of the past.

The whole school has been part of the project and poppies and toys were sourced from Cherry Orchard pupils.

The offering from Tudor Grange Academy is called Suspended Innovation and highlights the work of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel – particularly the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, dubbed “the ship that changed the world” and now in Bristol.

The garden captures the grandeur of the bridge, recreating the iconic view down the Avon Gorge, reminding visitors to the garden of its height and place within the landscape.

Plants are native to river areas, hardy and durable, reflecting the nature of Brunel’s work. The garden also uses recycled materials commonly found in construction and transportation.

Bredon School Key Stage 2 pupils have created a garden on the theme of “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”.

The plants used in the garden were inspired by those often seen at the seaside resorts on the South West coast of Britain and Victorian horticulture.

The boundaries of the garden includes beach huts, a curve to represent the coastal line created by British beaches and an obelisk to represent a light house, helter skelter or even Blackpool tower.

The rose takes centre stage in the entry from the pupils at Malvern Wells Church of England Primary School. The theme of this garden is Britain’s history and heritage and the fact that people from all over the world visit Britain to view its historic houses, gardens and seaside resorts.

The garden is shaped like a rose with different sections including a bug hotel at its centre point. The four petals contain a beehive and dovecote – both of which could be found in Tudor gardens.

Two of the petals form ornamental gardens of a Tudor style and the other two feature medicinal and food production with food crops grown by the children at home.

“Dig for lunch, dig for victory!” is the theme chosen by students at the Royal Grammar School, Worcester, and is based on a Sunday lunch – a tradition which brings families together was felt to help make Britain great.

The students grew their own vegetables to represent the meal and this created a link between this iconic meal and the Dig For Victory World War II campaign.

The garden has an Anderson shelter made from corrugated iron and in another part of the garden there is an apple tree, herbs and a cowbell chime to represent the meat element of the meal.

The garden jointly created by St Nicholas Church of England Middle School, Pinvin First School and Himbleton First School (Reception to Year 7) is on the theme of Coexist and celebrates the union of Britain’s four nations, the religious diversity, urban and rural landscapes and how people can coexist with nature.

The garden includes structures representing icons, landmarks and nature in Britain. There is a central feature called the Tree of Unity made from recycled plastic bottles, wire and tubes. Each bottle contains an image or message written by the students on a particular subject about Great Britain.

Plants that naturally occur have been used, including heathers, thistles and grasses as well as plants that take over cities and urban places.

Other schools submitting entries are Birmingham Virtual School; Greenfields Primary School, Years 5 and 6, in Kettering, Northamptonshire; Northleach Church of England Primary in Gloucestershire; St Briavels Primary School in Gloucestershire and the Three Counties Home Educators.

Diana Walton, head of shows at the Three Counties Showground, said: “Each year we’re so proud of what these talented young gardeners achieve. With the support of Chris and long-term supporter BAM Construction, the children flourish and they never fail to deliver awe-inspiring, imaginative gardens that are a delight to all who see them.

“The theme of Great Britain this year is quite broad so we’re all really keen to see how each school interprets it and we can’t wait for the finished gardens in May.”