The Mulberry Bush School Build
This year I had the pleasure of creating a garden design for an amazing charity called The Mulberry Bush School. I really enjoyed working with the staff to create a peaceful place for parents to sit and reflect, and for the children to enjoy as well. To achieve this, I used a planting palette including colourful, highly scented, textural plants that attract wildlife and give interest throughout the seasons. We also included areas of lawn and benches to complete the relaxing feel. In another area of the school, we installed some raised beds for the children and staff to grow fruit, herbs and vegetables in to help encourage outdoor play and interaction with nature – something the school is already passionate about.
Anyway, the reason I really wanted to write this blog was less to do with the garden, and much more to do with the charity itself. The school was established in 1948 and now runs three-year residential programmes to help the early development of children from challenging backgrounds in order to facilitate long term change in their lives. Children arrive from environments of family breakdown, high anxiety and trauma – sadly for some of those children the trauma is ongoing. The Mulberry Bush school have found from their experience (and data) over the years that once a child starts at the school and begins to feel safe, they make good progress in English and maths as well as social and emotional development.
I was given a tour of the new building (appropriately named The Burrow) allowing 52-week residential programmes to take place for children who don’t have a permanent address during school holiday time. The name ‘The Burrow’ gives connotations of families, safety and comfort – perfect for describing its purpose. I was shocked after hearing about some examples of what the children might have been through before being referred to the school – whether that be difficult family situations, abuse, traumatic events, having multiple foster homes or any number of things that a child should not have to endure. I love the fact that the way the school works is to create a calm and familiar environment for the children to settle into, so they get to know how to trust other humans again, and it shows the children that life doesn’t have to be so chaotic and distressing.
I have the utmost respect for the staff that work at The Mulberry Bush School – they must be so selfless, caring, giving and have the patience of saints in order for the school to run as well as it does and have so many success stories. I am in awe of the work they do and it’s an incredible achievement for them to reach their 70th birthday this year and still be going strong. It’s amazing that some people don’t realise that the nurturing of a child (or lack of nurturing) can be the cause of some major behavioural and social problems and all they need is unconditional love and care, along with the space to have fun and be themselves, for many issues to be improved or overcome.
If you are interested in finding out more about this amazing charity, please follow this link to their website where you will find an in-depth history of the School as well as testimonials from ex-pupils and a link to donate to The Mulberry Bush School: https://mulberrybush.org.uk/
Some words from Mulberry Bush School
“I have been really impressed by the garden that your team has designed and planted outside our new children’s home (The Burrow) and in the existing garden of the Rainbow House. Despite the inclement weather over these two days, your staff were brilliant. They worked diligently and professionally at all times to ensure that both the gardens were finished to a very high standard. The design work that Ruby Simpson carried out was equally as impressive. There is now an environment around these buildings that is of very high quality and will look beautiful for many years to come. The time, effort and thought that has gone into this project is superb and is really appreciated by all the staff and children at our school.
I would, therefore, be very grateful if you could thank all of your staff who were involved in this work both on the day but also at the design stage too. I would also particularly like to thank you for taking the project on free of charge. “
Lee Wright – Director