No half term holidays for Meristem this February!

Meristem were at the forefront of the Mayor of London’s new drive to clean up our city’s air last week - installing green screens, as well as some other planting, in three schools around London during half term.

Wyvil Primary School in South Lambeth, Robin Hood Junior School in Sutton, and Christopher Hatton Primary School in Holborn are now the happy beneficiaries of our urban greening, providing a cleaner and healthier environment for their pupils to learn and play in.

Wyvil Primary school’s playground backs onto the very busy South Lambeth road, meaning that air pollution was one of their major concerns. To remedy this we installed almost 40m of our english ivy (Hedera helix) green screens along the fence separating the playground from the road. The dense and evergreen nature of the plant makes them one of the most effective natural systems for cleaning the atmosphere and protecting the pupils, who are especially vulnerable to poor air quality due to their age.

Robin Hood school in Sutton required us to install one of our largest ever screens, at a massive 54m! Although the school has a large playground by London standards, there was no field and so limited scope for greenery, and so it was important to bring as much life as possible to the space. The school, therefore, requested a mixed screen and so we combined English Ivy, Euonymus fortunei, Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and 2 varieties of Clematis for the screens, and planted a mix of smaller plants at the base, using a total of 20 species in the screen and its base.

We also installed bug hotels (pictured) along the wall, one for each class, and we are hoping to see them used by a variety of different species - allowing the children to learn about ecosystems and the natural environment. As well as the hotels, we planted more than 15 varieties of herbs at the base, with a view to helping the children understand more about horticulture and where their food comes from. The screens will, therefore, double up as an educational tool to teach the children more about the natural environment.

Our third school of the week was Christopher Hatton primary school in Holborn. This installation included a roof terrace playground which backed onto a large construction site which creates a large amount of noise and dust.  We also planted 4 varieties of climbers (Hydrangea anomalasubsp. Petiolarisa, Hedera helix, Trachelospermum jasminoides and Clematis montana var. grandiflora) and evergreen base planting to create a naturally peaceful space.

And so, all in all it was a very hectic week here at Meristem but one which we hope will provide an instant and long lasting benefit for the pupils, staff and environment of each of the three schools!

Feedback from the school:

Headteacher Elisabeth Broers at Robin Hood - “I have to say arriving in school today to see the ‘green screen’ installed has been the highlight of my year so far! It exceeded my expectations in every way and is just fantastic. I love the variety of planting, the herbs and the bug boxes are already attracting interest from children – no doubt the bugs will follow suit soon! It changes the whole atmosphere of the playground – one of the children said to me today ‘We’re like the real Robin Hood because now we are in a forest’”