The school was built in 1910 and carries a distinct architectural style and splendour from former Empire times. There are other equally impressive buildings from bygone years around this lesser known part of the city. Many are in the comparable time frame with the late music legend himself.

When funds were finally raised for a hedge to separate the school playground from a neighbouring car park, the duty was given to me to prepare and organise everything before the “big gardening day”. Which I did, consulting gardening friend Eszter from the Feldhoffer Kertészet, a small, independently run plant store nearby at (and highly recommended, by the way).

Before my visit, it was notably important to get wild shrubs that grow upright, as opposed to horizontal, for this particular job. To satisfy this matter, a consignment of hibiscuses, syringas and ligustrums were assigned. After delivery came the positioning of the plants, with heavy-duty spadework. Finally, all was ready for the volunteers, who were an enthusiastic crowd of teachers, pupils and parents alike. And fortunately they were able to appear on the scene on a particularly warm, sunny October day.

This was a cheerful event as the children placed, with some help, all the plants into the ground with additional compost to improve soil conditions, then water the lot and tie on ribbons to identify every individual plant and who had actually planted it.

As everything grows, this immediate area will not only look better but will eventually cut out some of the noise, dust and pollution from outside, thus making more pleasant surroundings all year round.

When the hedge finally establishes in two years’ time, there will be some occasional flowers. But considering the temperaments of kids and cars combined, especially at this delicate planting stage, it's best not to expect too much so soon, despite obvious goodwill from the gardening committee. The shrubs will have to tolerate some abuse and neglect in order to survive, especially when abandoned on school holidays.

Although the season was meant to be autumn it felt more like summer, with the ground still intensely dry. All the new plants will need watering every day until further notice.

Next spring, I will return to the site, when we can expect a few buds before the return of leaves. Hopefully there won’t be too many problematic issues and eventually the school will see the fruits of our labour, before finally reaching the satisfying conclusion that the job is complete. I am sure it will be, just give it some time.

Read more by Alexander Stemp at

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