Morris Elementary School Garden--McKinleyville, California

Signs that Teach

Another great McKinleyville asset that just needs a little love is the Morris Elementary School Garden.  There always seems to be just one parent at a time that takes the project by the reins and takes it as far as one can, which is apparently unsustainable.  Just as in school, in the school garden, there needs to be some structure and there needs to be some literature, including a design.

Morris Elementary School Garden--McKinleyville, California

I would love to see the rosemary consolidated into a well clipped hedge outside of the raised beds and to have the raised beds generally dedicated to growing food with the bed nearest the entrance a mixture of vegetables, herbs and ornamental plantings.  I like display gardens to have at least one element that displays a common, fast growing, preferably edible, inexpensive plant that may be utilized to create garden architecture.

The stockpile of broken concrete could be used to create a small terrace with thyme in between the cracks.  A sign recommending the use of recycled materials for garden paving and citing the ecological benefits of maximizing the use of permeable paving in our environment educates gardeners and garden visitors on one solution to mitigate two common ecological problems, storm water runoff and waste.  Permeable paving may also be achieved utilizing freshly poured concrete by creating regular gaps in the paving for "green grout" a/k/a tough plantings that can be driven or walked over.  These "green grout" strips allow the storm water runoff to be filtered by the plants and soil instead of just running off into storm drains.  Educational signage will give the garden additional structure as well as educate garden visitors and gardeners alike.

A Woolyschoolgarden would be a smart addition to this garden, bringing the garden beyond the chain link fence yet still within the fenced in school yard, making it seem more accessible to parents and kids coming and going to and from school.  It would also be a good educational element, which references vertical gardening as a small space solution and also a solution for gardeners who lack the mobility necessary to garden in low beds.

I would love to see a few fruiting trees espaliered along the south facing school house wall or along some of the chainlink bordering the west side of the garden.  This could be another educational element of the garden, which references the history and techniques of espaliered trees as well as identifying it as a small planting space solution.

Creating a garden with an educational component like signage, utilizing unique gardening techniques, using eco-friendly hardscape elements and drafting a planting plan and garden design will bring the Morris Elementary School Garden to another level.

Children's Gardening Educational Play Area

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