Kids of the Wild love nature and we love writing about it. We encourage children to send their stories about adventures or experiences in nature and this post is from an 11 year old self-confessed ‘gardening geek’ who has his very own successful outdoor blog!
We are thrilled to welcome Green Fingered George, who you may have seen on Blue Peter amongst other places and, like us, he took part in the Rocket Science experiment with seeds that had been in space with Tim Peake. George gardens organically, promotes gardening whenever he can, loves wildlife and conservation and always asks questions – the best way to learn.
George’s post proves just how much fun and adventure can be had if you get outdoors (and write about it too!)
(See bottom of page if your child would like to contribute an article)
With Blue Peter’s Radzi, Barney and Lindsey
Growing Up and Gardening Wild
By George H aged 11
Hi my name’s Green Fingered George and in June 2014 I won the RHS Young School Gardener of the Year Award, I was nominated by my school gardening teacher, Sarah. As the year came to an end (it was a good year – I went on The One Show with Alan Titchmarsh and met the Queen of England!) I was asked to be the first ever RHS Young Ambassador – what an honour!
The Ambassadorship means I’m invited to lots of events, which are usually based down south, as I live in the North of England, it’s hard to keep taking time off school to travel to places, so I decided to start a blog where I could write about gardening, wildlife and my love of the natural world. I needed a name and Green Fingered George was born!
I’m often asked how I became interested in gardening, nature and wildlife, well, my Mum and Dad have always taken me into the countryside, to estates, gardens, parks and to the coast for day trips or when we go on holidays in our cool camper van. I always say this, gardening brings me closer to nature, so that’s how it started – I’m absolutely obsessed, I’m a nature nerd, a gardening geek! I’ve always been obsessed with water too; recently me and my Mum were looking at old video footage of when I was 2½ years old. We looked at a clip filmed on New Year’s Day on a Scottish beach and despite the FREEZING cold weather my Mum said I was ready to jump into the sea, fully dressed!
I love being outdoors in the fresh air; when you’re outdoors gardening, you can see all types of wildlife from insects to birds. Lots of people tell you that gardening makes you feel healthy and fit and I couldn’t agree more. The air makes you feel calm, the garden provides you with food, it doesn’t cost lots of money, I mean, what’s not to like!
Organic Wildlife Gardening
We have a wildlife garden at home and we’re always working on developing and improving areas. Last year we built a third raised bed, where we grew peas, courgettes and one of my favourite veg, sweetcorn. Me and my Dad are the growers, my mum the cook – although seeing as she’s a cookery teacher, she has started to teach me a few things, she said if you can make your own beans on toast, you will always survive!
We grow fruit too, including raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries – there’s just nothing better than picking the fruit straight from the plant and eating it, in fact we have just planted a third apple tree, I’m looking forward to tasting the fruit in autumn. We made strawberry jam last year; the smell and taste was just divine!
I love the pond area that me and my Dad built; it’s only small, but we’ve surrounded it with some of my favourite plants including a small acer tree. We’re extending the pond at the moment, which should encourage more wildlife, like birds, hedgehogs and other small mammals into the garden. I’m always making things like bug hotels and bird boxes and it’s true what they say, build a home for nature and it will come to you!
We choose to garden organically, which allows insects to thrive; it’s one of the best ways to encourage natural predators. If you don’t use pesticides and herbicides, it really increases the number of beneficial insects you will have in your garden, which in turn is food for other wildlife – bees, bats, birds, butterflies and hedgehogs – and I love all of them!
All gardeners know they need pollinators for their flowers and food to grow, so if you want to attract wildlife into your garden you have to start at the beginning of the food chain with the plants and flowers that they feed on, for example plants that attract caterpillars, which are great for birds such as blue tits. Caterpillars turn to moths and the moths are eaten by bats. In our garden, we planted lots of plants, shrubs and flowers such as honeysuckle and verbena that are popular with insects. I wrote a blog about how to attract bats into your garden.
I’m now at high school, but when I was at primary I did gardening and forest school. My gardening teacher, Sarah, who nominated me for the RHS Award, always linked outdoor lessons to the curriculum and that’s a big tick in my book. Kids learn better outside, where the air is fresh, I find the indoors too hot and stuffy.
Wildlife and Conservation
So, I love gardening, but I’m crazy about wildlife and my favourite bird I always look out for is the peregrine falcon – the fastest animal on the planet. It’s been my favourite animal for a long time and I’ve been lucky to see it in action a few times, including once when we saw one hunting by the coast in Dorset – it was awesome as it swooped down and caught its prey! We’ve been heading to the Dee Estuary over the winter and have spotted some birds I’ve never seen before including a hen harrier, marsh harrier and a really rare bird, a green winged teal.
You can watch wildlife on TV or read about it in books, but nothing can beat seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. Rutting deer for example, at Bushy Park in London was so cool. Snorkelling in the sea looking at the colours of the fish was like a dream come true. Some fish were jumping out of the water as they were being chased by a cormorant, it was just awesome.
I ask questions all the time about things that I want to find out more about, but don’t understand, for example I asked my mum all about sustainable food, in particular meat and fish. It helped me understand about animal welfare and the decisions we make when buying our food. I’m really passionate about conservation too and get really mad when I hear about the destruction of wildlife habitats when new buildings are built on green space
When I can, I share my passions and views at events, school presentations and within my school work – anything to spread the message about the ‘natural world’. Small steps are what I say and if there are enough of us, together we can make a difference. Get involved in local organisations and meet other kids who are passionate about the natural world too. Through social media I’ve hooked up with some young birders and it’s great to be with them as they are so knowledgeable.
Check out other young bloggers – there’s plenty of kids who care out there! There are the physical things you can do, like recycling, then there’s things like campaigns to share via social media and surveys to take part in like the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch or a #2 minute beach clean. Wherever you live in the world there’s always things you can do in your local area.
I like to take photographs when we’re out and about and more recently I’ve been using a cheap action camera, which I strap to my head or chest. I’ve also used it in my pond and have taken some great footage of my fish. When the weather warms up I’m going over to my favourite river in Bakewell and film the huge trout there – some are like the size of blue whales!! Photos, videos and film footage, shared on social media are great ways of inspiring other kids to get involved and enjoy the outdoors
How To Have Fun Outdoors
Day trips don’t have to be complicated or expensive; we have spent many an hour besides a river looking for water voles or kingfishers – it’s all about the small pleasures.
My top tips are:
- Jump in puddles, get dirty, get wet – it’s certainly one of my best talents!
- Forget meat pies, make mud pies
- Whilst about and about in woods and forest have a go at naming the trees and identifying the leaves. Take photos looking up through the tree canopies
- My Dad is really resourceful in the garden; he keeps all sorts of stuff to use in there so I regularly play with old construction pipes, bricks and wood and make mini water slides with them. Have a go and then send a Lego figure for a ride!
- Play pine cone tennis; collect a load of pine cones and hit them in the air with a tennis racket. The winner is the one who gets their cone the highest, but watch out when they return to the ground #Duck
- Look out and listen for the birds – can you name them?
- Cook outdoors, toast marshmallows on a campfire, make s’mores
- Climb on hay bales, climb a tree, climb over a gate, climb a hill
- Pick up worms and make your own compost area
- Look up at the night sky, spot the constellations
- Spend hours in a rockpool – look up every now and again tho and watch out for the tide coming in!
- Whilst on the beach, do a #2 minute beach clean
- Take your mates for a ride in a wheelbarrow
Get out, live life and grow wild!
What an inspiring young man and proof of just how much fun being outdoors really is. Huge thanks to George (and his Mum for the photos) for this detailed piece on his nature experiences with suggestions for having fun outdoors in the garden and the wild. Good luck with your fantastic blog George, we love it!
If your child would like to produce a short article (with photos) about a nature adventure, activity, animal or event please complete the form on the contact page (your email will not show publicly) and I will be in touch with my contact details for you to send the work to. They do not have to write for their own blog.
To read more children’s articles see Children’s Writing.