KEVI Gardens

The aim of the KEVI Gardens Project is:

  • Build on the success of students ‘In Bloom’ projects
  • Enrich the learning environment for students and staff
  • Expand our business and community links
  • Develop a collection of specialist gardens e.g.
    • The Ornamental Bandstand Garden
    • The Kitchen Garden
    • William Turner Physic Garden
    • Mulberry Science Garden
  • Other gardens to follow – what this space for the Carbon Capture Garden
  • Open the grounds to the public for special events

KEVI Science Gardens: Past, Present and Future

The development of our three Science gardens depicting the past, present and future has been inspired by one of our Alumni, Alan Davison Emeritus Professor of Environmental Biology (Newcastle University).

Alan became a Foundation Governor to the school later in his life and as he moved into retirement, his passion and drive to continue working with the school, helped us to find new ways of enriching the learning experience for our students and galvanised us into action.

The Present: The Mulberry Science Garden

Between 2014- 2016 we worked with Alan and utilised his expertise and knowledge to develop the first science garden. With support from Brims Construction Company, 4 raised beds were built and Alan designed 10 different environments with particular plants in each section for students to study. Additional help came from Wyevale’s ‘Heighley Gate’ Garden Centre and Morpeth Town Council in looking after the plants and maintaining the new space.  The final step to completion was with the science charity Opal who helped us to begin a small wild meadow area.

The garden has been a great success with staff and students enjoying it and using it all year round in a variety of subjects. Alan died in August 2016 and to honour him we are continuing his work with the development of a further two science gardens. In the future we will host community events and invite the public in to view our special gardens. The first public event is planned for this summer to commemorate the death of our famous Morpeth botanist William Turner.

The Past: The KEVI William Turner Garden – under construction

Alan’s interest in local history has led us to explore our past and recognise the possibility that William Turner, the famous botanist, physician and theologian who was educated in Morpeth, may well have been a former pupil of our school. The King Edward VI School began life as a church school in the Morpeth Chantry back in the 1300s and was later re-founded (1552).  As a boy, William Turner (1508-68) lived in Morpeth and received his early education here before leaving for Pembroke Hall, Cambridge.

To develop our Turner Garden, we have worked closely with the Friends of William Turner Morpeth group (FOWTM) and received expert advice from plant historian Dr Marie Addyman. The preparation work began in 2017 and with everyone’s help; we have now completed the first phase of planting with recognised plants from the 1500s.

The Future: The Carbon Capture Garden – 2018 – 2020 project

Alan’s interest in the future of the environment has led to us furthering our links with Newcastle University. With the help of Professor David Manning and his Research Assistant Kevin Stott from the National Green Infrastructure Facility, School of Engineering, Urban Sciences Building, we are now embarking on a two year scientific project to develop a Carbon Capture Garden. This garden will be a site of experimentation for students and will be based on the knowledge that the NCl University team have acquired during the development of their ‘SUCCESS’* project.

Click here for a list of plants used.

The Future: The Carbon Capture Garden

We are just beginning the development of our third ‘Future’ science garden which is a collaboration between staff, (Chemistry teacher Adam Astbury, Citizenship teacher Sheila Clark) a team of students and Newcastle University’s School of Natural & Environmental Sciences staff.

David Manning, Professor of Soil Science and Research Assistant Kevin Stott along with Dr Mark Goddard, now a Fellow at the University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment (previously Research Associate at Newcastle University) will be working with us to transform an unused patch of land into an area of carbon capture. All three  developed the  University’s carbon capture SUCCESS (Sustainable Carbon Capture: Engineering Soils for Climate Change) programme.

Following the SUCCESS programmes methodology, our new garden will consist of an artificial urban soil engineered to exploit the natural carbon capture potential and maximise the rate of calcium carbonate formation.  Two  main carbon capture materials will be used, first, is a waste product from a demolition site – crushed concrete and the second is dolerite (also known as diabase) which can be found all over the world and is quarried in the northeast of England.

The garden will be planted, maintained and monitored to measure the amount of carbon captured from the atmosphere and to complete the plot, meadow flowers will be grown on top to encourage pollinators.

Over a minimum period of two years, the students will regularly test the garden to assess the rate of calcium carbonate formation as well as checking the strength and permeability of the artificial soil. A few of the questions to explore will be which plants will survive in these conditions? Do some plants boost the carbon storage capability of the soil better than others – e.g. deep roots v shorter ones?

In preparation for developing the garden and helping students understand the best way to collect samples, we have now completed a test pit dig.  On a very cold day at the end of March, we dug a metre square test pit.   It rained, snowed and then there was hail….and we kept on digging!

The Sixth Form student team:                

Millie Chambers
Kate Seymour
Emily Brannigan
Elouise Southern Thompson
Rebecca Glen
Rosabel Rees

For more information about carbon capture visit the University’s SUCCESS programme webpage.

Dr Mark Goddard’s website.

The Present: The Mulberry Science Garden

This garden is a place of experimentation, to be used as a resource for teaching and learning in our school and also the wider community. This garden is the legacy of one of our KEVI Alumni:

Sixth Form students and Science staff worked closely with Alan and his wife Carole to begin the process of planting up the beds to demonstrate how plants are adapted to different environments (desert, dry soil, Mediterranean climates, wetland, arctic and high mountains and nutrient-poor soils).

The first guests to visit the garden were the Friends of William Turner Morpeth Group. This led to our partnership work, and a continuation of our science garden theme with the development of a William Turner garden at school.

By summer 2016 we had a full bloom of wild flowers from the new meadow with plenty of insects to observe too.

Our nitrogen rich plants went berserk!

The Past: The William Turner Garden

In the spring of 2016 the Friends of William Turner Morpeth group, held their Annual Symposium meeting at the school and were the first group to view the development of the Mulberry Science Garden.  A stepping stone to our future work together!

By spring 2017, members of the FOWTM and Dr Marie Addyman began working with the school to develop a second science garden. This would act as a tribute to William Turner and help to highlight the historical connections he had with the school.

Dr Marie Addyman was instrumental in designing the look of the garden and together with members of FOWTM, KEVI staff and volunteers, work began on the garden. Heavy digging to remove old bush stumps and clearing of the site was a team effort by all but very soon the ground was prepared and laid out. With expert advice and help from Marie, a start was made on collecting and planting specimen plants in the summer and autumn terms of 2017.

At the beginning of October 2017, the garden had its first official guests. Marie arranged a visit by an expert on medieval physic gardens, Dr. Javier Vilanova from Brazil, whose enthusiastic encouragement was very valuable.  His endorsement added to the sense of progress and excitement which attached to this project from the outset and continues to grow.

Meanwhile the focus on the further planting of the School’s William Turner Garden strengthens.  The site faces north and has a wall which screens part of the garden from east winds, so the amount of sunlight reaching the garden varies significantly from one part to another. Centrally, in a good-sized and attractive container, is a dwarf box (Buxus sempervirens ‘Fruticosa’, which was a generous gift from Dorothy Cowans).   At the entrance point and in the front are healthy French and English lavenders Lavandula stoechas and L. vera.  A very generous gift of an Apothecary Rose came from FOWTM and we’re looking forward to seeing it flower by summer 2018.

Dr Marie Addyman has provided comprehensive plant lists for each section of the garden. For many of the plants, she has provided these either sourced from the nurseries she knows well or by making a gift to the garden of specimens which she has propagated herself. Based on Marie’s notes, we are now in the process of developing a leaflet to explain the various areas and list the plants in preparation for opening the garden in summer 2018.

The culmination of this first stage will be an Opening event on Saturday July 7th in the school’s Advanced Study Centre (ASC) with presentations from Dr Marie Addyman, Michael Chapman and students from KEVI.

Time to say goodbye to cherry laurel

Work in progress by Gardening Matters, a collaboration between KEVI, volunteers and local businesses aiming to develop the school grounds into an attractive environment for school and local community. Parts of the grounds will be developed into open air classrooms for teaching biology.

William Turner and new Science Garden

science Earlier this year two new science labs were built at KEVI and they look out onto the large mulberry tree that was donated as a cutting to George Chapman 30 years ago when he was researching Turner’s time at Syon House. George nurtured this cutting until it was established as a young tree and is now over 30ft tall.

The area around the tree is being developed into a Science Garden and the mulberry will be used as the introduction to Turner and his work. The idea is to grow some “Turner” plants and use them to lead into the medicinal uses of plants. Yew and periwinkle will be used to illustrate modern pharmacological uses of plants.

science2There was a long discussion about what to call the new labs and surrounding garden area and the name eventually agreed upon was the Mulberry Science Centre; a name that intrigued the students because they had no idea that the big tree was a mulberry.

The story, along with copies of Marie Addyman’s booklet about Turner created great interest so we asked artist David Hall for permission to use parts of his Turner artwork in the labs in order to provide an accessible reminder of the great man. He agreed, and we expect some of his superb drawings to adorn the walls of the new labs soon.


Work on the new garden is proceeding at a pace. The builders of the new labs, Brims, built a pond and a series of raised beds that are being use to demonstrate how plants are adapted to different environments. In the autumn, compost bins and decomposition experiments will be started and hopefully we will plant a small meadow area.

School Council Sunflowers Project

Picture1Who are we?

We are part of KSC and we are the Y9 year reps

What do we want to do?

We want to encourage the current Y8’s to join school council when they come to KEVI by promoting school council whilst they are still in middle school


By doing this, we will have a better chance of getting the future Y9’s more involved with the school council

Picture2How will we do this? (the plans)

We plan to give every Y8 student a sunflower seed to plant, they will grow them and on one of their transition days they will bring them up to KEVI. The seedlings will then be planted and when the future Y9’s come up to KEVI they will be able to see a sea of sunflowers.

What we’re hoping to achieve

We really want to show the Y8’s how many fun and interesting things we get involved in.