Monday, August 24, 2015

Under Construction!

So much really DOES depend on a red wheelbarrow! William Carlos Williams had it right!
I may have blistered toes and fingers, scrapes and bruises, but we have made such tremendous progress in the garden, I can honestly say it has all been worth it!

Armed with instructions and a shopping list from Ivan Katz of Great Lakes Landscape and Design, Inc., I headed to Lowe's to pick up some materials we needed to ensure proper drainage.

We began with a garden of weeds; once again, Matt Zimmerman, WBHS Class of 2005,  came to the rescue! (You'll remember Matt from the initial groundbreaking post back in May.)

One weed did NOT want to give up its home. You'll also want to note just how low the garden bed was when we began - ground level!

We had to create a "bladder" for drainage. We wrapped the drainage pipe in weed fabric and pea gravel and pinned it shut. This will help to prevent the dirt from washing out of the garden.

Rebecca Kruth of NPR stopped by and interviewed us for a story!

Because the courtyard is hemmed in by classrooms and offices, we had to bring all of the materials in by wheelbarrow - all FOUR YARDS of pea gravel and all NINETEEN YARDS of dirt! Thank you to everyone who loaned us wheelbarrows and shovels!

At some moments I feared the pile would never end!

Fortunately, I had a lot of help from a lot of wonderful people.

Thanks to my fellow WBHS teacher Brandy O'Connell-Wilson (and Jack!) for helping!

Thanks, Amy Goldman and Bobby Efros!

I LOVE my students. Love them! Look at this turnout!

We had so many volunteers! So many WBHS students, a couple of alums, a fellow teacher and her daughter, parents, community members, and West Bloomfield Education Foundation Board member Kevin Goldman - there is no way that this kind of project would have been possible without all hands on deck. Some of my students came back two, three, even four times! To each and every person who shoveled, hauled, pulled, pushed, dumped, spread, raked, and more - THANK YOU. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

Finally, the bed was raised! Today we finished off by creating steps into the garden. We still have to order some more steps, but if the plants came tomorrow, we would be ready.

Thanks, Tim, for all of your hard work! We couldn't have done it without you!

We are officially UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

Thank YOU for all of your donations - your money helped to purchase the materials we used to get the garden started!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Emily Dickinson's Daylily and Prepping the Garden

I am grateful for the generosity of Marta McDowell, a New Jersey garden designer who provides "consulting services on landscape design, preservation and gardening. She works with home gardeners, companies, museums and historic sites." Marta "consults for public gardens and private clients, writes and lectures on gardening topics, and teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where she studied landscape design. Her book, Emily Dickinson’s Gardens: A Celebration of a Poet and Gardener, was published in 2005." You can read more about Marta and her work here.

When I contacted Marta regarding our project, she immediately - and generously - offered to send us a daylily culled from the Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts. This is the first plant I have received, and I am delighted to report that it is in good health with new healthy new shoots growing daily. Please join me in thanking Marta for all of her help!

We have been shoveling, hauling, dumping, and raking to prepare the garden for the plants, and my next post will detail that process in depth. Here's just a few pictures to show you how hard we have been working!

More to come this week - thank you for YOUR support of our garden!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

We Have a Literary Sponsor! The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis

I am so pleased to announce that the West Bloomfield High School Literary Garden is now sponsored by the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library!
That's my daughter wearing my Slaughterhouse-Five shirt!
Julia Whitehead, the founder and Executive Director of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been a tremendous supporter of the Literary Garden since its inception. We are so incredibly grateful to have her expertise and ideas on board!

My daughter, Emily, and I headed down to Indianapolis this month to visit the Library and to meet Julia. We were dazzled by the collection of Vonnegut's artwork, the replica of his library, and the mock-up of Billy Pilgrim from Slaughterhouse Five.

And then, of course, I hit the gift shop to add to our growing collection of literary puppets. We have grand plans for them!

I am also honored to announce that I have been invited to speak at VonnegutFest 2016! I will be presenting on the Literary Garden and its curricular connections to the authors we are featuring.
VonnegutFest 2015 looks amazing! For more information, click here.

We look forward to continued collaboration with the Library and our students this year. Thank you to Julia and the Library for their encouragement, support, and tireless efforts on behalf of one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut.