The Butterfly Garden
We started planning our garden in the fall of 2005. Over the winter, one of our student's parents, who is the owner of Fox Hill Gardens Nursery, offered to do some conceptual drawings for PFE. He had a landscape architect, Lynn Toretti, come to PFE to talk with Ms. Stoicovy in order to understand our idea for our Butterfly Garden. She presented us with the drawings, and with the drawings, we began to work on the garden.
We planned for the site for the garden to be located in the place of the former front of the old school. We thought that this would be a nice "tribute" to the former school and a "new beginning" for the new school. Additionally, our citizenship recognition was "Butterfly Awards," and so we called this our “Citizenship Garden”
We had our District's Physical Plant grounds crew turn the soil for us so that we could prepare it for planting.
A fifth grade math class took on the project of mapping out the plants and their locations. They divided the garden into grids and placed colored stakes matching the various plants selected for the garden.
When everything was mapped out and staked, our PTO took on the task of getting plants for the garden. They sought parent donations in honor of their child's classroom teacher. Each classroom was able to plant at least one plant, and up to ten plants. We had quite an outpouring of generosity from parents and students.
We ordered two different types of mulch - one for the path, and the other for the plants. A huge semi load of mulch arrived one day and we watch it gradually decrease to a small pile.
Students watered the garden daily until summer time, and then Ms. Stoicovy resumed the watering. Our PTO set up a summer schedule for weeding. Ms. Stoicovy made a bucket of tools available to the various groups. Several Girl Scout, Brownie, and Boy Scout groups signed up for many of the weeks of summer work in the garden.
The following fall, Ms. Stoicovy applied for a PA Department of Education (PDE) Watershed Grant to try to "round out" the rest of the plants that we needed for the garden. This initiative gave each class the opportunity to plant more plants. We were also able to purchase some resources for teachers. Students continued to weed and mulch the garden area. The small pile of mulch eventually disappeared! One of our classes participated in Monarch Watch during which the students collected data for the nation-wide program. We eventually moved outside compost bins over near the garden site to make it easier to compost. We now are able to use the compost in the garden.
We also had a former PFE student Jack Hay, who was working on his Eagle Scout, design and build an animal observation area that overlooks the garden.
Over the summer, the PTO took care of the maintenance by coordinating various scout troops and families to take on the task of weeding. Ms. Stoicovy continued to water it as needed.
Some of the plants in our garden include:
• Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)
• Butterfly Bushes
• Shasta Daisies
• Bee Balm
• Rudbeckia (Black–eyed Susan)
The butterfly garden is used by classes for observations as part of our Schoolyard Project for data collection, journaling and writing activities. Students also spend time doing weeding and maintaining the garden. We are also continuing to participate in Project Monarch Watch and Project FeederWatch – watching collecting data about both butterflies and birds for these programs.
We currently have a multi-age intermediate (grades 3 & 4) class who is writing a grant to Greenworks to help them get new tools to help with the upkeep and to add some other plants to the garden. They have successfully partnered with local businesses for support.
There are a multitude of skills that children gain from gardening. These skills range from planning and planting, to cooperation and communication skills. They also use mathematics and writing skills. The garden addresses multiple Pennsylvania Standards for Environment and Ecology, Science, Language Arts, Mathematics, and Social Studies.
Identifying flower pictures borrowed from www.youcanlearnseries.com, www.dougllyodphotography.com, and arboretum.harvard.edu
Last Modified on October 7, 2009