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Girton GI

This year, Girton College chose to launch a competition to design a new sensory garden for Girton College as their Green Impact Excellence project. This was to celebrate the centenary of the sixth mistress, Miss Elizabeth Welsh, who helped landscape the garden.  

The garden project looked to address the intersection between sustainability and wellbeing. Biodiversity improvement was a clear goal, but also to provide an inclusive and accessible space for the entire Girton College and wider village community to interact with nature.  

A topic that is becoming more and more relevant in conversations about sustainability and environment degradation is how biodiversity loss and climate change can impact on wellbeing. Feeling anxious about the climate crisis is now a well-documented phenomenon and being locked up due to Covid showed us all that not being able to interact with nature can have a severe and damaging effect on our mental health. Moreover, human connection is something that many of us have been deprived of over the past two years. By encompassing all of these facets of sustainability, the value of the competition to design this garden is starkly apparent.  

As part of judging the 10 designs that were submitted, they also held a Garden Walk in April for the Community and Robert Myers (alumnus and guest judge) talked them through his and the winning designers’ ideas and they also received ideas and feedback from those that attended the walk which he will take note of when creating the final design.  

In describing the value-added benefits for the college, they described in their project report that: 

'In the long-term this project will have many benefits. Firstly Robert Myers, the external judge and former alumnus has offered to work with Girton and hold some Workshops for people interested in gardening, sustainability and design which was warmly received by the judges. Through this competition, it has become apparent that as a college we need to work more closely with each other – with this in mind we have created a Green Forum so that students and staff, together with fellows can meet to discuss their ideas for future projects and what they are currently focusing on. Once the garden is completed, we hope that it will also be a benefit for the whole Girton Community to include the Village.' 

We in the Sustainability Team are so excited to see how the project develops over the next few years. A huge congratulations on the entire team on the success of the competition.  


Caroline Luker, who joined Girton during the pandemic, emphasised that her eyes were opened as to how much knowledge and commitment existed in the College in terms of Sustainability. She also noted how valuable the sense of community the garden project has created has been for all Girtonians.