CHILDREN from across Blackbird Leys will be joining professional gardeners at this year’s Blenheim Palace Flower Show, starting today.

The Blackbird Leys Academy – composed of Pegasus Primary School, Windale Primary School and Orchard Meadow Primary School – will be the only school to have a show garden entered at the weekend event.

Fiona Thomson-Tuc is part of the outdoor learning team at the academy helping to construct the garden.

She said: “We have had a long association with Nicolson’s Nurseries, based in Bicester.

“They have been helping with gardens and allotments at the schools for the last five or six years.

“They had a garden at the flower show and we developed this idea of us having our own garden.”

She added: “I hope this will bust a few myths and show what our children are capable of. They are able to do anything else other children do – and this is something most kids haven’t done before.

“We’ve had children onsite helping to build the garden. It’s been wonderful.


  • Joyce helps out

“The children have been using a lot of practical skills out in the real world. It’s hard work but it’s a new experience and really exciting.”

The garden – called Eat your Garden – will be made of entirely edible plants, such as English marigolds and purple basil, with an orange and yellow colour scheme.

It will be in the running for the best garden in show trophy against eight others, which will be judged by writer Tim Miles and former royal gardener Jim Buttress.

Pupils have been working on the garden for the past two weeks.


Windale Primary School pupil Ajay Desmond-Stockford, 10, above, said: “We’ve been weaving willow and moving lots of things around and using tools I haven’t used before.

“I was whittling some willow with an axe.”

Fellow classmate Maddy Lee, eight, below with Jake Fryer in the garden, added: “It’s going to look amazing.

“I’m really looking forward to eating the yummy food.”


The academy’s executive head Jill Hudson said: “We have chosen to build a garden that is in the shape of a circle like the sun or a smiling face because it’s a happy shape.

“In between the sun’s rays there are lots of different vegetables and salad crops.

“Around the edge is a huge willow tunnel with a collection of garlic bulbs woven out of willow hanging inside.

“At the end of the show the other gardens will be dismantled.

“We will pick up our garden, bring it back to Blackbird Leys and eat it in our school lunches.

“It’s important if we’re trying to get good nutrition. I think children growing their own vegetables are much more likely to really relish eating healthily.”

Stars of the gardening world join event

This is the second Blenheim Palace Flower Show to be held on the grounds of the stately home.

Some 300 exhibitors are expected to show off the best of their gardening efforts over the weekend.

Ground Force television duo Charlie Dimmock, far right, and Tommy Walsh will be on hand to chat to visitors, along with horticultural expert Monty Don, right, and Gardeners’ World presenter Joe Swift.

ITV show Love Your Garden presenter Frances Tophill will also stop by the festival.


Charlie Dimmock, above, and Tommy Walsh will be holding two talks on Sunday at 11.30am and then again at 2pm. Monty Don, below, was due at the show today, chatting to visitors at 11.30am and 1pm.


Talks are to be hosted in a dedicated “Gardening Theatre” and include demonstrations from the celebrity line-up.

Show gardens include examples from designers GreenArt, Prime Design and Slate Grey. There will also be floral art competitions, plant stalls and food stands.

  • For more information visit Tickets cost £12.50 adults and £6.50 for children.

    Our top stories: