At a glittering ceremony in London hosted this month by the Society of Garden Designers, local garden designer Kristina Clode received not just one but two major awards for her creation of Sedlescombe Primary School’s Sensory Garden. The garden was selected for both the ‘Design for the Environment Award’ and the prestigious ‘Judges’ Award’. 

Kristina created the garden on a shoestring budget of £5,000 in 2017 with the participation of parents, staff and the children themselves. Opened in January 2018 by Great Dixter Head Gardener Fergus Garrett, the tranquil garden offers a peaceful contrast to the bustling playground beyond, a place for the children and their teachers to enjoy the colours, textures and scents of Kristina’s creative planting. The sustainable, low-maintenance design also helps children learn about the environment and develop an interest and love for horticulture. 

Sensory Garden
CREDIT: Abigail Rex

Kristina who is based in Brede said: ‘’This was a really special project to me as both of my children have been at school here; they were involved in building the garden alongside me, as were all the children at the school and many of their parents and teachers – it was a true community effort. I don’t think a garden with such a tiny budget has ever won the Judges Award before,” she said. “I’m very proud of the garden, it took a lot of effort to make it a reality, but we created a piece of magic for the children, teachers and wildlife to enjoy every day.”

School Head Caroline Harvey added: “The children, staff and parents …absolutely love our amazing sensory garden that not only looks stunning all year round, but also provides a haven for our children that supports their learning, play and mental and spiritual well-being. I am thankful to everyone who gave their time, skills and commitment to bringing Kristina’s design to life. We feel very lucky to have such a special garden as a part of our school grounds.”

The award ceremony judges were impressed by the community spirit that helped create the garden and applauded the creation of an exceptional learning space in which to teach children about the environment. They described the project as “sustainable in its widest sense, not only in terms of the use of materials and well-chosen planting, but in terms of its longevity”. Head Judge Richard Sneesby commented that this was perhaps the most important Judge Award they had given in the last decade. “Not only does this illustrate what can be done with a tiny budget and the generosity of people’s time, most importantly it’s really good design. This kind of project we hope is a precedent, we hope that funding bodies will increasingly realise the critical role that these projects bring to early years development, and society as a whole, and that money, and I mean proper money, that pays fees and pays all of our suppliers and everyone to do this, follows these projects.”

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