The Wildlife Habitat Garden, the first garden to take root at Atkinson Elementary School, was planted almost a decade ago. At first, it was only a dream of kindergarten parents Em Scattaregia and Kate Raphael. The grounds at Atkinson then were mostly bare of trees and shrubs except for a few rhododendrons. The two parents were inspired to create an outdoor learning garden of native habitat by participating in the 4-H Wildlife Stewards program. They found a space at Atkinson’s south entrance near two Western Redcedar trees.
The first critical step in planning the Habitat Garden was to gain support from the principal and the teachers. We wanted to be sure that the garden would be used. Every step of the way, we came back to the teachers.
Em Scattaregia – project lead
Hardscaping of the garden was done in the summer and over fall weekends. The big planting day arrived and people showed up who had never participated in the garden planning, some who rarely attended any school event. But the garden drew them. One was a father who spoke little English, but who had been a landscaper in Eastern Europe. He became the site leader. Gardening is beyond language. Over the next few weeks, children planted ground cover and smaller plants. The habitat garden, now established and mature, is regularly used by classes as part of their curriculum.
What came out of the garden that I didn’t foresee, was that it was an incredible community builder, with every child in the school involved … both in learning about habitats and/or native plants, and in participating in planting. It’s so encouraging as a parent to realize that just a few parents can make a huge difference in what a school is all about. Build it and they will come! They will come, and they’re still coming.
Twelve Plants in the Wildlife Habitat
Red Flowering Currant
Red Twig Dogwood
Other plants found in the wildlife habitat:
|Pacific Bleeding Heart
For more on plant identification see recommended books and websites in the Resources page.