The Monk's Garden at St Edan's National School, Ferns, County Wexford
© David Begley, March 2021
The Monk's Garden
From March - July 2021, David is facilitating The Monk's Garden, an art, heritage and gardening project at St Edan's National School, Ferns, County Wexford. David and the children are growing organic fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers and using these as source for drawing and painting and in order to learn about the heritage of Ferns. Inspired by the medieval monk, St Aidan of Ferns, many of the plants chosen for the garden would have grown in medieval monastic gardens.
Each week the garden prompts lessons on soil, germination, companion planting, the importance of water, erosion, wildlife habitats, uses of sheep's wool, composting, archaeological excavation, monastic life, St Aidan, The Normans, and of course, on creativity. The children have woven a wattle fence, made oak gall ink, gathered water from the river Bann to feed the garden, and used homemade charcoal to draw a portrait of the school secretary in her Covid-19 face mask. As the project develops they come to know the names and uses of plants. David brings finds from his home at the coast to the garden such as shells for path mulches, rabbit dung for manure, driftwood for charcoal, stories of sea monsters and saints, recipes for ancient inks . . . and with these the children draw, experiment, sow and grow.
This project is part of David Begley's Ancient Connections Artist Residency in Ferns, commissioned by Wexford County Council (2020 - 2022).