School ‘themed’ garden




One of my favorite projects is a themed garden for a Primary School in

South London.

The idea was to create a ‘dry’ replica of a Kentish Riverside,

on what was a tarmac car park.

We achieved this by starting with a ‘dry’ riverbed of kidney stones

laid in a flowing pattern, with ceramic fish set into them.

Next we designed and built a miniature Oast house, and
a Kentish Barn.

To comply with disability access requirements we added a

jetty to the dock.
Then constructed three mock sailing boats using trees as masts

( to facilitate shade in the Summer months).

We also added a typical stone bridge, a gravel path around the

garden area, and a fallen tree ( depicting the great storm of 1987).




Here you can see the ceramic fish set into the dry stone riverbed.


Here you can just make out the natural stone bridge.

The idea was to use all local materials so that whilst the ‘garden’

was created to be a quiet rest area during breaks it also had

some educational historical significance.


We took a little ‘licence’ with the barn, but kept the materials authentic.
When it came to planting, we arranged for each child to plant at least one plant,
some plants ended up being planted more than once.

The end result won a number of awards, and was remarkably free from any vandalism.


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Chris Coope

Author: Chris Coope

Born in Great Britain, Chris Dyson-Coope followed his training and passion in the field of horticulture for decades. This path led him to multiple awards for landscape design and many prestigious projects in the United Kingdom and the U.S. Chris has received 19 national awards for projects as varied as city parks, urban regeneration, playgrounds, office parks and streetscapes. He pioneered the use of designer drives in the 1980s utilizing Permacrib to create structural green walls and award-winning green roofs in London. Most recently, Dyson-Coope has nurtured his interest as an educational innovator to produce an Internet radio show (, books on landscaping, and a series of fictional children's books that explore non-fictional themes such as sustainable agriculture, geography, and history. Convinced that the younger generation can (and must) learn from the older generation, as well as blazing new paths toward a sustainable future for a planet in deep distress from climate change and unsustainable practices, Dyson-Coope presents workable solutions in multiple formats, from books to inventions, podcasts and educational media. With several horticultural patents to his credit, the noted horticulturalist looks to the future with hope that the younger generation will grab the "torch" of innovation to develop and maintain a more sustainable world for us all. Dyson-Coope is a member of The Chartered Institute of Horticulture and serves as Director of Children's Sustainable Education for Energime University. Chris lives in Weston, Missouri, with his lovely wife, Cindi.

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