The Secret Garden in our courtyard garden. It is both inside and outside. The best part is that it doesn't get visits from deer or groundhogs. But the shade from the building impacts the amount of light it gets. Last spring, third graders planted vegetable and herb seeds and transplants. The garden has done well, and now we are harvesting tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, cilantro, peppers, and basil.
The first plant that we added to our pollinator garden was Jewel weed. It has flourished! It is now making seeds and I am confident that it is there to stay. Another plant that is well established is Monarda (bee balm). We can see new plants coming up around the roots of those we originally planted in the back of the garden. Rudbeckia (brown eyed Susans) are also well established and blooming now. We've had excellent bloom from the coneflowers we planted and have high hopes that they will come back next year. Surprisingly, our Blue Lobelia is doing very well, considering that this is a dry year and it is not in an especially wet spot. New York Ironweed is growing well though it did not bloom this year. Liatris bloomed earlier but may not have survived the dry weather we've had. False Indigo did not bloom but is established, and we plan to add more False Indigo seed to the garden before cold weather. We have Cranesbill Geranium that bloomed well and survives, and plan to add more. As we learn more about our site--for example, it is sunnier than we realized it would be since it is against a wall of the school--we will be better able to select plants that are appropriate for the light, soil, and water that we have.
I came into the process of developing the pollinator garden half way. The children had already placed cardboard over the site to kill the grass and prepare it, and I had already seen their excitement about what was going to come. The development expanded beyond the second grade class that had identified the site as we enlisted afterschool program students to add more cardboard and make suer the grass was adequately covered as spring arrived. Then we engaged middle school students to bring bags of mulch to cover the cardboard. The first planting was Jewelweed--which was difficult for me to see since my previous experience with Jewelweed had only been to pull it up! Nonetheless, the students were excited about the first plants to go in. Then the perennials arrived! A volunteer from the community helped us create a plan for their arrangement, and the second graders went to work. Adults dug holes in the mulch, students removed plants from their pots, and into the ground they went! We had color in the garden throughout the summer, and as fall arrives, still have blooms to enjoy. The pollinator garden remains a work in progress. Last week, third graders began the process of places stone that they brought from home to create a border around one side of the garden. Yesterday, afterschool students became very excited when they found a moth next to the brick wall. I suggested they move it to the pollinator garden. Today, we plan to harvest some seeds from the garden, and next week, we will plant more!
Has been gardening for over 20 years and has her Master Gardeners certification. She is especially interested in propagating native plants and apple grafting. She is now the After School Program Coordinator and Garden Coordinator at Valle Crucis.