Bird is the word in Gardening…

We have been paying special attention to the needs of the bird life in the local community this winter. With yet another cold and snowy few months the need for looking after our feathered friends is even greater than usual. In November we spent a couple of lessons making and stock piling bird feeders and fat balls to be used through the colder months. Thankfully we managed this just in time for the dreadful cold spell that started in the last week of November and ended in January. We were able to put food out in the garden in a number of locations and help the small birds source energy when they needed it most.

On our return after Christmas we inspected our feeders and discovered that all of the food had gone. We were not surprised and set out to replenish the feeders again – just in case more bad weather happens.

In addition to being very vigilant and conscientious bird feeders we have also been studying other aspects of feathered life…

  • from a science perspective we have researched the kinds of birds that live in British gardens
  • in Art we have designed our own pictures of some of the different species in preparation for a survey of garden birds with the RSPB
  • through music we have studied a recording of bird song using it as means of relaxation and in order that we could consider why some birds sing…

Anne Frank Foundation trees…


File:Annefranktree edit1.jpg

The Anne Frank tree was a horse-chestnut tree in the city centre of Amsterdam that  featured in Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl”. Anne Frank described the tree from The Annexe, the building where she and her family were hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

The tree was between 150 and 170 years old, and for the past several years it had been battling both a fungus and a moth infestation. The Borough Amsterdam Centrum declared that the tree had to be cut down on 20 November 2007 due to the risk that it could otherwise fall down, but on 21 November 2007 a judge issued a temporary injunction stopping the removal. Neighbours and supporters formed the Anne Frank Foundation to support the maintenance of the tree in memory of Anne. 

Eleven saplings from the tree were distributed to various sites in the United States in 2009. These have been used to produce further saplings for future distribution and to keep the memory and genes of the original tree alive. The Anne Frank Foundation are currently offering saplings from the original tree to schools and other organisations in memory of the young girl. The ELP group have applied for one such tree to put into the school garden and we await news as to whether our application has been successful. Should we be the lucky recipient of a sapling we intend to create a small area in the school grounds dedicated to inclusion of all people – no matter their colour, religion or nationality.

On 23 August 2010 the tree was blown over in a rain-and-gale storm, breaking off about a meter above the ground.  It fell across a garden wall and damaged garden sheds but did not damage anything else. However, on 24 August 2010 it was reported that a small side shoot was growing out of the stump below where it broke, and it is hoped that it will grow into a new tree. There are plans to keep large pieces of the fallen trunk and its large branches.

As part of our work investigating the life of Anne Frank we have also been reading an abridged version of her diary and watching excerpts of the BBC dramatisation of the book. (This can be found on You Tube should you wish to consolidate any of this work at home).

Garden centre models…

Junior ELP Garden Centre models

Rachel, Melissa and David have been making models of a Garden Centre with Mrs Hughson, Mrs Purvis and Mrs Menzies. 



We used old photocopy paper boxes for the basis on the Centre – cut carefully to size.  Then we gathered gardening leaflets and catalogues.  Some of the pupils brought these in. 



We cut out pictures of flowers, trees, plants and garden tools.  The pupils then planned out the area into various zones.  They used small pieces of tree bark and tiny stones to mark out paths. 


Garden Centre 1


Pictures were glued onto the sides and back of the Garden Centre.  Each pupil decided what to call their own Garden Centre. 


Garden Centre 2


Photographs were taken of each pupil and then a group photo of the three finished projects.  Rachelle Berry has been helping the ELPs with this project.


Garden Centre 3

In like a lamb…

There is a saying about March:

“In like a lion, out like a lamb”.

This old saying suggests that if March 1st is a windy day, March 31st will be calm…

This March 1st, however, has been a glorious day – so we’re a bit worried the lion is yet to come!

This week we will be beginning our spring weather project in ELP Junior Science and the week beginning March 1st seemed as good a time as any to make inroads into this exciting new piece of work. We will be concentrating on the different kinds of weather in our introductory lessons – building a wall bank of words to describe the changing conditions. We might even find a few more old weather sayings to go along with it. Most people will also have heard of the expression “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight”…

Rolling, twisting amber-coloured clouds above a silhouette of wooded land.

There has been an awful lot of weather this winter! Most of it has been of the cold kind and we will be finding out just how unusual that has been…or has it? We will be looking at some extreme weathers with the weekend storms in France and Portugal providing us with a timely reminder that the elements can be a very dangerous aspect of everyday life.


We will also be looking to build our own weather station from recycled materials and then site it in the school garden to use it to monitor Preston Lodge weather between now and the end of the summer term. We will also be able to combine what we do in Science with our work on our Gardening course.

Bringing you our very own “local weather forecast” podcast will be great fun indeed! Michael Fish, eat yer heart out…

Garden Centre makes for model lessons…

In ELP Gardening for the next few weeks, the Junior ELP pupils will be constructing their own model garden centres. This is part of our preparation for a trip to a local garden centre next month (when the weather will hopefully be a bit better than it is at the moment!)

We will be doing a lot of research and combining it with our already extensive prior knowledge so that we can come up with something befitting of our efforts. We will be constructing as much of our models from recycled materials to ensure that our model gardens are indeed model environmentally friendly green gardens!

With Mrs Hughson’s expert guidance we will also be finding out what kind of things might be found in an Italian garden – with a view to reworking one of the school’s gardens Italian-style in time for the Whole School Project Open Day in May!

Bella! Bella! (as Gregory once said in a movie about East Kilbride)

Setonhill Farm trip…

On Tuesday October 6th, a small group of our pupils were invited by Mrs Nicoll (from HE) to visit her at Setonhill Farm, near Longniddry. In addition to the very lucky pupils chosen for this trip, Mr C from CDT, Mrs A from Science and Mrs B (that’s me!) were asked to become involved to ensure we made the most – from a cross-curricular point of view – of this wonderful opportunity. So much could be taken from the experience and rolled out into Home Economics, Science and CDT lessons for weeks to come and with the new S1 cohort undertaking the “East Lothian – Our Environment” course this session, this was too valuable an experience to turn down.

So, wellies in hand, woollie jumpers at the ready and faces bright with anticipation (and that was just Mr Cruickshank) we headed off in the school minibus to the farm. The weather forecast had not been great however, although the skies were leaden, no rain was actually to fall whilst we were out and about. We felt very happy and lucky in this regard.

Above is a beautiful photograph of Setonhill Farm. It shows how picturesque a setting we were being treated to. Mrs Nicoll met us at the driveway to the farm house, ready to get us started with one of the many tasks we were to be set during our visit. We were off to feed the hens and see if there were any eggs to collect!

At first the birds were not interested in the gaggle of Preston Lodge pupils desperate to chuck bread pieces at them. They stayed, wise old birds, in their wooden hutch and were doubtless having a good old hen chuckle at our expense. We coaxed and we cooed. We made embarrassing noises of encouragement. One of us even instructed the hens with a “Hey, yous! Come out!” But none of it worked and we were about to walk away when the inevitable happened…the feathered fiends deigned to grace us with their presence.

Out they strutted, splendid in their red and black and white finery.

We gladly took the chance to feed our feathered friends whilst one of our party checked their living quarters for signs of eggs. We were very pleased to find two warm brown shells…that we removed and stored for taking back to the farm house.

Our next job was to go round the garden orchard harvesting fruit from the trees. We were amazed at all the apples, pears and plums hanging from the branches above our heads. Some fruit was lying in the grass but often this was not edible – little furry or feathered creatures had obviously gotten to these before us.

We spent a fair while collecting the fruit from the canopy and were delighted when Mrs N said we could try a little of our produce…

Our next mission was to climb into a hilly field on the other side of the farmhouse to feed some very special animals – Mrs N’s gorgeous Zwarbtle Sheep! We were simply dumb struck at how these animals looked and felt. They were quite simply some of the loveliest animals we had met. Able to get into the field with them, we had a good pat of their brown springy fleece before feeding them with basins of sheep feed.

The sheep visit was then soon followed by a visit to meet Mrs N’s fabulous labrador dogs – one chocolate and one black – before we went off on an exciting forest walk to look for conkers, cones, leaves and twigs. We soon found we were not walking on a pathway…we were getting deeper and deeper into the undergrowth and had to be careful. Branches could ping back in our faces, tree roots could trip us up – there was even a badger’s set to get past. We didn’t want to fall into that and break an ankle! We felt as though we were Robin Hood in the Longniddry Wood…or Ant and Dec in the jungle. (We are sure at one point we heard Mr C shout, I am a Celebrity! Get me out of here!).

The walk was wonderful and we were disappointed to find out that we would soon have to be turning back towards the farm again – something about teachers having classes to teach (pah!). However, we were not finished yet and we were treated to a tour of the farm buildings and stores. We saw grain mountains, potato piles, cow sheds, tractors, ploughs, a vet’s enclosure and – best of all – the hay bales! We had great fun climbing up on top of these bundles of hay (and Mrs A had a fine time bouncing across from one to another, proving PTs don’t have to be square!).

We asked our pupils for feedback on how they felt the trip went. The expressions of excitement are too many to relay here, so we thought we’d end with a photograph that says it all!

(Back at the ranch we have used our collected apples and pears to make meals in our HE lessons and our Gardening lessons – and they tasted all the better for knowing we collected our own apples! We have used the cones and twigs for our 3D model of the Water Cycle in Science and we have spoken about the animals and plants we saw with our Science teachers. We are using the conkers we collected in CDT – drilling holes into them to make stringed conkers for the annual whole school conker competition. Now that’s what we call Cross Curricular!)

Gossip Girl meets Mrs Robertson…

This week Gossip Girl has been catching up with the Deputy Head with remit for Health Promoting Schools at Preston Lodge, Mrs Robertson. Mrs Robertson also runs the LBN Club (Little Black Number nutrition club) and is a strong supporter of the school Vegetable Bag Scheme…

Gossip Girl – Mrs Robertson, do you get a Veggie Bag?

Mrs Robertson – Yes, I get one every week! A nice young man called Steven delivered mine this week.

Gossip Girl – How much does a Veggie Bag cost?

Mrs Robertson – It costs £5. It is very good value.

Gossip Girl – When do you get your Veggie Bag?

Mrs Robertson – On a Monday – every Monday afternoon.

Gossip Girl – Why do you get a Veggie Bag from the school and not the shops?

Mrs Robertson – The veg is lovely and fresh and the people who deliver them are polite and warm and friendly. It also saves me from having to go in the car to the shops. The only difference is that the school ones are a bit messy because they come straight from the farm but I have someone at home to clean them for me. He is called my husband. I leave them by the sink and tell him I have a wee job for him.

Gossip Girl – What do you make with the veg?

Mrs Robertson – I make lovely soups. Carrot and corriander, leek and potato and I also make cauliflower cheese.

Gossip Girl – Is the delivery service good?

Mrs Robertson – the delivery service isnt good – its excellent!

Gossip Girl – We heard that you dont like the bags because they are not very posh. Is this true? Do you have your own designer Veggie Bag?

Mrs Robertson – who told you such a thing?! I think I can guess! That person is right though – I do have my own bag that I bought from a Farm Shop. However, I really would love a pink designer veg bag. That Mrs Trolley is always trying to give me cheap and nasty poly bags. Do you think I could have a pink sequinned Veggie Bag?

(A bit like this perhaps Mrs R?)

With the last two interviews staff requested photographs of their favourite star to go along side their gossip. This week is no different and Mrs Robertson has requested that Mr George Clooney accompany her 15 minutes of fame…

How green is our garden?



In the coming week in ELP Gardening we will be looking to become even greener than our lush Science Garden or our pretty little SFL Garden. As we encourage the pupils to think across the curriculum, we will be looking at recycling, its impact in everyday life both round the school and in our school gardens.

We will be concentrating on one aspect of recycling – composting – however we will not be overlooking some of the recycling we have undertaken in the past during our Gardening course. It will soon be time to collect leaves, conkers, fir cones and the like from the leaf litter on the ground and we can use all of these again in the coming months to make Christmas decorations, leaf pictures and rubbings and have fun playing conkers with Mr Cruickshank!

The attached file at the top of the page will be used in conjunction with a number of resources after we establish what prior knowledge the pupils actually have of composting and recycling. We never cease to be amazed at the amount of information the students can offer in their own words using personal experiences or observations as their reference point. We dont doubt for one moment that anything will be different when it comes to making the most of the waste in our homes and gardens.

Our plan is to set up our own composter somewhere in our science garden plot, where we can recycle the following kinds of everyday waste…

  • shredded paper  
  • cotton and wool materials
  • tea bags
  • old plants
  • dead leaves
  • tops of perennial weeds
  • grass
  • eggshells
  • a compost bin with a lid
  • old plant waste
  • kitchen waste
  • soil


If anyone is interested in helping out in this project or simply offering advice to our budding gardeners please let us know.


Bulbs for light and dark…





This Thursday in ELP Gardening we will be looking at bulbs. The word “bulb” means more than one thing when we use it in everyday language – can you think of any things we might use or see that could be called a bulb? Where do we find them and what do they do?

Why are they ALL called bulbs when they do such different jobs?

At the top of the page you will find a link to our introductory lesson – “What is a bulb?” We will be using this to introduce the idea that the word has many meanings and move on to discuss the job of the flowering bulb.

The spring flowering bulb is something of a Godsend to the gardener in winter. These clever plants are able to grow and bloom at a time of year when little else is in flower. They bring colour to the darker months and useful jobs in the autumn – when planting is done. We will be once again planting our own bulbs this autumn.

Last year we planted the following species outside Dr Voge’s window in the Science Garden:

  • Ranunculus

  • Dutch Iris

  • Tulip Botanical

They brought much colour in the spring time – the ranunculus were lovely shades of red, pink and yellow, the Irises were beautiful blue and the tulips were a stunning red variety. They replaced the bright yellow of our sunflowers and made our garden look pretty in February and March this year.


 Our choices this year will also be determined by the pupils and we shall be looking to plant these in a variety of locations – including using window boxes that can be sited anywhere in the school. We hope to make Preston Lodge a bright and cheery place to work.


Using the above link “PLANTING OUR BULBS” you can follow the steps we will undertake in the garden. The rules apply for planting any bulbs and can be used at home too.


The diagram below will be very useful too!