The History of the Courtyard
The school opened in 1999. No work was done that year. In 2001 Chris Souhrada and Randy Morgan planted vegetables. They also used the garden to dig up artifacts for a Virginia history lesson. John Young loaned a garden tiller indefinitely. The PTA provided five hundred dollars each year to support the garden. The caring of the garden in the summer has been unreliable.
For a fourth grade fall Friday (9/03) Lou Powell designed a low maintenance garden. Each fourth grade classroom contributed buddleia (butterfly bush), asters, sedum, caryopteris (bluebeard bush), liriope, or chrysanthemums. In addition several hundred daffodils were planted. It was all planted in the horse manure enriched semicircle. This bed thrived! The butterflies began to come! Unfortunately, the daffodils along the edge drowned in the heavy clay soil. Nora Bishop and Geri Voran worked tirelessly moving mulch by wheelbarrow to mulch this area.
The Eagle Scout project of Joey Zedan was executed on April 1, 2004. It was a terrible day for gardening; it rained almost all day. The Boy Scout Troop 572 and its leaders worked into the evening to install an eating area. Thirty slabs 2’x 2’ were put in the shadiest corner. Two hexagonal wooden tables were assembled. Three lilacs and five red azaleas were also planted. The boys worked hard and got very muddy!
In the fall of 2004 the herb circle was planted by Lou Powell, Mark Walsh, and his third grade class. The students planted bulbs to surround the replanted sage, mint, lavender, and thyme. In late fall Janet Geib, Jenny Schutt, and Nora Bishop planted the entire large circle with eight flats of ajuga. It is an aggressive plant that was to cover the entire circle in blue flowers. Only a few dozen plants survived the winter. This was very discouraging.
Parsley was planted in 2005 to provide food for the caterpillars. More plants were bought at a summer sale. These would be caterpillar food or cover, blue flowered, or evergreens. For the first time in September there were caterpillars munching in the courtyard! The preschoolers and kindergarten students came to see them.
In late fall of 2005 the remaining courtyard was plowed under. This was to enrich the soil for future plantings and to rid the garden of as many weeds as possible. The Nash family provided the large tiller and the man power to get the job done. The school paid for two skids of mulch from Home Depot. The school paid for seep hosing which will allow for watering while students are in the courtyard. It will cut down on evaporation, too. The volunteers, Janet Geib and Jenny Schutt and Michelle Nash laid down several hundred bags of mulch over newspaper, also a deterrent for weeds. Lou Powell planted evergreens throughout the courtyard. Students in the after school program made some concrete Latin nametags. They also planted pansies that bloomed blue and burgundy throughout the mild 2005-2006 winter. Tracy Kelleher donated, planted, and staked a cercis or redbud tree. Blanche Tibbs made donations of liriope and rudbeckia (black eyed Susan). The majority of the courtyard was replanted.
Gradually, the school is embraced this space and all students have come to appreciate our courtyard!