• Rachel Peterson

A Director's Report

By Chuck Gleaves

We are particular about our gardens, so it should be no surprise that we want to install all of them ourselves. The scope of the construction project makes that a challenge, so it was particularly important to do any planting that could be done in the fall of 2019 to reduce the enormous task facing us in the spring of 2020. The Horticulture Department managed to plant nearly all of the parking lot this fall.

You may recall that we prefer to call it the Parking Garden due to the heavy planting involved. In addition to the many shade trees that will eventually soften and cool the parking environment, the parking islands include a dense cover of shrubs, grasses and other perennials. The bioretention islands include specialized plants that can tolerate periodic inundation as water runs off the hard surfaces and into the parking islands. The water’s rush to nearby Touby’s Run is slowed and some percolates into the ground and recharges the ground water. Cardinal Flower, Winterberry, Golden Leaved Sweet Flag, Sour Gum, and River Birch are a few of the plants intended for those periodically flooded zones.

Conscientious water management inspired another dramatic “plants and gardens” improvement. Any rain water that manages to run through the bioretention areas in the parking lot, or through any of three rain gardens (including a soon to be constructed “moat” in front of the visitor center), or simply runs through the drainage system throughout the property; is intercepted by what we have always called the back pond. That pond is now about twice as large in order to retain and slowly release large surges of storm water. We have seeded the banks with a pollinator mix and “no-mow” grasses. The stream that leads to the back pond has been opened up to reveal a great view and several specimen trees including a mature Bald Cypress complete with its signature array of knees popping up in the stream. The banks of that stream will be the site of future and of as yet undetermined horticultural enhancements.

We are heartened by our progress and look forward to even more transformative new gardens.

Check out these progress videos by K. E. McCartney & Associates:

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