THE COUNTRY SCHOOLS DAFFODIL CHALLENGE

Involving young people in growing daffodils is very important. With this in mind, members of the Northern Daffodil Club have established close relationships with a cluster of three country schools close to Hamilton City. The relationship is built on flower shows which each of the schools held annually.  Winning entries in the schools’ show were taken to the Cambridge Daffodil Show and entered in classes created for the event.  Sand posies, animals constructed from vegetables, floral arrangements and, of course, daffodils grown in the school grounds all competed for prizes.  The enthusiasm displayed by the teachers, caregivers and parents, and most of all the children was very contagious. So it began!

With the Australasian Daffodil Championship coming to Hamilton in 2007 it was decided by the Club to expand the daffodil section of the relationship.  Members donated bulbs of good show varieties and these were distributed to the schools.  Each school was given exactly the same collection thus making for an even playing field.  A “mentor” was appointed for each school by the Club to guide the programme in conjunction with the teachers.  The children learned about fertilizers, preparation of the ground, planting procedures and foliage and flower care.  Covers were made and sessions held on the judging of show blooms.  Research was conducted by the children (Daffseek became a favourite site!) and art work, history, poetry and other subjects were integrated – even a bit of maths when it came to measuring flowers and pointing!  The interest of the children was amazing as they developed their expertise.  The questions became more and more technical – even the shape of petals and sepals became a source of discussion as well as “balance”, faults, colour etc etc.  The discussion which took place when flowers were being selected for the show was at an amazingly high (and technical) level.  Remember that none of the children were older than ten years!

Before the Big Day the mentors discussed staging and overall presentation, and every child tried their hand at it.  Finally the event arrived.  A selected group of children and teachers (plus a group of fascinated parents) brought their flowers to the show. Staging was completed with care and attention to detail – colour, balance, shape, size etc.  Once staged the children left while judging took place. 

Australasian Children's Competition

Later in the day they returned to view the results.  It was pleasing to note that each of the schools had at least one first prize (good judging, eh!) and although there was one overall clear winner, no-one was disappointed at the outcome. Well, perhaps just a little bit.

There were also displays of the children’s work which demonstrated the high quality of learning.  One school produced a powerpoint presentation on DVD which followed the process through. And the final products on the daffodil benches did not look out of place with the overall show.  Click here to download the Tauwhare School's Powerpoint presentation (a large file - 38 MB).

Everyone – parents, teachers, principals, and above all the children wanted the Challenge repeated.  And it will be – what better way to encourage the continuing exhibition of our favourite flower.