Residents across Newcastle are set to benefit from beautiful blooms on their estates this spring thanks to green-fingered children who have planted over 150,000 bulbs with the help of Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) and Newcastle City Council.
Children from St Mark’s, Simonside, Cheviot, Farne and Beech Hill primary schools in west of the city worked with staff from YHN’s environmental services team and Newcastle City Council’s Enviro Schools Co-ordinator, Mel Wallace, to plant aconites, snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, crocuses and grape hyacinths in a number of estates managed by YHN.
The children were able to choose particular patterns for their bulbs to be planted in, with options including the iconic Tyne Bridge, a daffodil yellow brick road and a classic huge smiley face!
The practical experience of planting was accompanied by an educational programme in schools, which encouraged the children to take extra pride in their neighbourhoods by explaining the positive impact of colourful designs and the negative impacts of things like dropping litter.
Following this, several schools are now doing additional work around the importance of taking pride in where you live. Children from Farne and Simonside primary schools are giving school assemblies to fellow pupils around the work they’ve done, the issues they experienced relating to litter and the importance of keeping areas clean and tidy for the benefit of the environment and the animals who live there.
Particular estates were chosen as they’re close to the schools the children attend, meaning they’ll be able to see the fruits – or, rather, flowers – of their labour regularly come the spring. Much of the planting has also been done close to main roads, so that as many people as possible can benefit from views of the colourful flowers.
YHN’s environmental services team and community environmental assistants, who are employed through “Your Homes Your Jobs” paid placements available only to customers of the organisation, have also planted bulbs across the wider city area. The full number will total 163,500 by the end of the planting programme.
Jen Vinton, YHN’s Assistant Director Strategic Asset Management, said: “The bulb planting programme is really win, win for us at YHN.
“It provides a great opportunity to involve the community and supports our #yourlegacynewcastle campaign, which raises awareness of the impact residents and we as an organisation have on the environment now and in the future.
“It’s been fantastic for all of the children to learn practical gardening skills as well as valuable lessons around the importance of looking after the environment, and there’s obviously lots more enjoyment to come for the children and their neighbours next spring! There are further benefits for the environment, as early flowers support bio-diversity, and provide a source of food for bees too.
“It’s also great for our staff to see their work having such a lasting impact for communities across the city, and particularly for those who actually live in the areas in which we’re planting, because they’ll benefit even more.
“The planting also fits in with the city’s grass cutting programme for estates and is cheap and easy to maintain, not to mention fun to do!”
A number of Newcastle City Councillors have been supportive of the bulb planting, including Cllrs George Pattinson and Daniel Greenhough, who both got their hands dirty to help out!
Councillor Nick Kemp, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and regulatory services at Newcastle City Council, said: “Community programmes like these are an invaluable opportunity for young people to respect and take pride in the place in which they live. It’s a rewarding way to show the importance of looking after the environment and the long term benefits it can have for everyone.
“It’s wonderful to see how this kind of approach is being introduced into local schools by the City Council’s Enviroschools programme and for this project in partnership with Your Homes Newcastle. This method of learning is the perfect chance of raising awareness about subjects like horticulture, littering and environmental studies. It will hopefully lead to education being the perfect platform to reduce the need for enforcement in the future as young people take this knowledge and morals into later life, and pass on these messages to friends, family and their own children.”
The bulb planting programme is part of a range of initiatives taken by YHN on the estates it manages for Newcastle City Council which are about doing things now to develop a legacy of people taking pride in their neighbourhoods as well as the city they live in.
Residents should be able to see the designs come to bloom from January to May next year.