Kew Gardens, the jewel of South West London, world-renowned for its exotic collection of plants and horticulture, offers so much more than a simple day out. For years now they have been running courses educating students, scientists and laymen on the art of conservation, horticulture, and botany.
Available to both national and international students at Kew and Wakeworth, these courses demonstrate the just how integral the institution is. One of my personal favourites are the daily courses that they run for schools and young children. I think it’s incredibly integral for children to be taught from a young age about the importance of conservation and the effects of plant life on our environment.
It’s very easy for children brought up in the city to miss out on this knowledge, and when you’re surrounded by the concrete expanse of London and its juggernaut of carbon emissions, it’s easy to neglect the countryside and the benefits of being surrounded by natural plant life.
For the early years, Kew Gardens offer courses which are designed to promote an awareness of nature, whilst also creating a fun and captivating environment for the children to explore. This involves meeting the ‘Wakehurst Green Fairy’, who the children need to help find fallen leaves and flowers to complete her dress.
For the slightly older kids, there’s the opportunity to get to grips with the more scientific stuff. Running a day-long course, Kew gets enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers to show them around the grounds from the awesome and intricate eco-systems of the Bog Garden to the ‘Mini-Beast Safari’, where children are shows the symbiotic nature of plants, insects, and small animals.
Though it’s not just about the scientific side of ecology, but also the creative. Kew Gardens courses for children offer youngsters the ability to get creative with nature too, whether through creating works of art from the plant life or photography courses. I feel that this is absolutely integral to get kids excited and involved in the world of ecology and our natural environment.
As we all know, we’re having to rapidly come to grips with the effects of global warming and climate change. I believe if we start educating our children from a young age on the benefits of conservation – about how trees are so important not only for the wood and paper that we use but also the oxygen we breathe – how plants and their ecosystem of insects are the cornerstones of all the species that live on this planet, we will ensure that future generations don’t make the same mistakes that past generations have done.
Image by Klaus Henkel