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Gardening youngsters from Leftwich win gold at Arley Garden Festival
YOUNG gardeners from Leftwich proved they were the pick of the bunch when they triumphed at a muddy Arley Garden Festival this weekend.
The team from Leftwich Community Primary School fought off tough competition from 12 other schools to win best in show in the annnual event’s schools project.
Their show garden was a picturesque and practical companion cottage garden, complete with a miniature greenhouse made out of recycled plastic bottles.
Sharon Barton, higher level teaching assistant who co-runs the gardening club at the school, said: “The concept of companion cottage garden means it looks like a cottage garden but uses the idea of companion planting where you put plants together that benefit each other.”
These include planting basil with tomatoes to improve flavour, planting marigolds with potatoes to improve soil, planting onions and carrots together to deter both carrot and onion fly and using sweetcorn to act as a natural trellis for beans.
Sharon said: “The children were ecstatic when they found out they won, they were really really chuffed.”
St Wilfrid’s Catholic Primary School came second in the competition for their garden based on the idea of plants racing to grow in the Veggie Olympics.
Bella Manfredi, 10, said: “It’s based on how a plant starts as a seed, gets bigger and you put it in a pot, then into a bigger pot, into the biggest pot then once it’s really big you take it out of the pot and plant it in the ground because otherwise it wouldn’t be fair on it.”
Amelia Rogers, 10, said: “Most of us jumped about 6ft in the air when we found out we came second.
“Leftwich came first and their garden was very very good.
“Competition was very tough and we didn’t think we stood a chance so we were just like ‘wow’!”
Lord Ashbrook, whose ancestors have lived at Arley Hall for 500 years, said: "The schools competition is one of the highlights of our festival every year and it never ceases to amaze us how inventive the children are each time.
"Leftwich's idea was great and included some wonderful planting and showed real gardening knowledge."
Pupils from another Northwich school, Hartford High School, were on hand providing refreshments for visitors from their own allotment.
Working with them was chef James Holden from the Academy of Culinary Arts who has developed a pyramid scheme that encourages primary schools, high schools and colleges to work together to encourage young chefs.
NEIGHBOURING farmers were drafted in to help make sure Arley Garden Festival could open despite heavy rain.
Garry Fortune, estate manager at Arley Hall and Gardens, said: “This is our 18th year and it’s the worst set-up weather we’ve ever had.
“We twice had last minute meetings at 7am on Saturday and 7am on Sunday just to discuss whether we were actually going to run with the event.
“We nearly pulled it on the Sunday because of how bad the car parks were.”
Farmers from Stockley Farm, New Farm and Arley Moss Farm helped bring straw and bark in to make muddy underfoot conditions more navigable for visitors, as well as lending a hand with tractors to tow vehicles out of the car parks.
Garry said: “We were really pleased that people have still come out in their thousands and I think everyone’s had a ball.”
Arley Garden Festival saw demonstrations of countryside crafts, beautiful floral displays and thousands of plants for sale. Traders had travelled from as the Lake District to sell their wares including jams, cakes and fresh fruit and vegetables.