Cathy Law: Courtyard Gardens at New Paltz HS


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From a panel discussion, "Growing Curriculum: Creating School Gardens," held as part of the 2014 THV institute, "Farms & Food: Teaching the Hudson Valley from the Ground Up." More information at www.TeachingtheHudsonValley.

Cathy Law has been teaching since 1995. Passionate about her work she teaches a wide range of science classes at New Paltz HS. She started the Courtyard Gardens in 2008 to create an outdoor learning center dedicated to understanding and improving the environment and enable learning that is problem based and interdisciplinary.

The gardens now feature 200+ species of perennials and grasses chosen for hardiness, adaptability, seasonal variation, and attractiveness to birds, bees, and butterflies. Protected by the school’s inner courtyard, the 15 gardens are a sanctuary for wildlife, serve as an outdoor lab for students, and feature themes including Zen, culinary, medicinal, scented, native, silver, and a stone garden featuring specimen boulders.

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Cathy Law: Courtyard Gardens at New Paltz HS

  1. 1. Courtyard Gardens New Paltz High School
  2. 2. Creating School Gardens
  3. 3. w w eNew PaltzClassroom in theField isinspired by theHigh Linepark in NYC. enaturalized meadow includesnativespeciesof perennialsand grasseschosen for their hardiness, adaptability, seasonal variation, and attractivenessto wildlife. BOULDERS JAPANESE SAND GARDEN BIRD FEEDERS XERISCAPE GARDEN BIRD GARDEN ZEN GARDEN LOWER MEADOW BEE GARDEN GRAY GARDEN BUTTERFLY GARDEN CHILDREN'S GARDEN SHADE GARDEN SCULPTURE MEDICINAL GARDEN UPPER MEADOW A mix of meadow grassesand perennials createastrikingdesign of nativeplant variations. BUTTERFLY GARDEN Showy and colorful flowersaredensely packed invitingan aerial storm of butterflies. LEMON SQUEEZE GRASSLANDS Studentsnavigate conglomerateboulders, framed by nativeprairie species. HIDDEN GARDEN Follow thesecret path to discover bizarre mineral specimens. CHILDREN'SGARDEN Miniatureplantsand sea shellsgracethisgarden to delight children of all ages. SCENTED GARDEN Exploretheremarkable variety of fragrent blossomsand leaves. MEDICINAL GARDEN Discover which plants areused to cure ailmentsfrom indigestion to colds. GRAY GARDEN Silver and gray foliage arewildly variablein the plant kingdom. Come celebrateitsdiversity. BEE GARDEN Nativebeesarein a frenzy over thediversity of flowersin thisgarden. LOWER MEADOW Indigenousgrassesand perennialsdominate thisgrassland, accessed by theRiverstoneTrail. BIRD GARDEN Bird feedersattract our feathered friends, and nativeshrubsand perennialsoffer cover and nesting sites. XERISCAPE Drought-tolerant plants thrivewith neglect. Discover which plants conservewater and your time. ZEN GARDEN Stones, sand and gravel symbolize naturein this traditional Japanese garden design SHADE GARDEN Enjoy thecool, refreshing shadeand learn which plantsthrivein low light. SCALE 1 10' 20' LEGEND Path Under Construction Boulders WalkingPath LEMON SQUEEZE GRASSLANDS RIVER STONE TRAIL RIVER STONE TRAIL UPPER MEADOW BENCH BENCH HIDDEN TRAIL HERBAL TEA TRAIL RAVEN'S RUN FERN WAY BIO PATH PEA STONE "POND" SCHOLAR'S TRAIL MEDICINAL HERBWALK BENCH BENCH HIDDEN GARDEN SCENTED GARDEN
  4. 4. Mission Statement • To create an outdoor learning center dedicated to understanding and improving the environment. • To enable learning that is problem based and interdisciplinary.
  5. 5. • To promote environmental stewardship. • To help build a positive school community. • To teach students valuable horticultural skills. • Promote food literacy and healthy eating habits.
  6. 6. Gardeners in training
  7. 7. How to Start the Garden The power of many working together is exceptional. - Gloria Arrovo Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together. - James Penney
  8. 8. AP Environmental Science class
  9. 9. Power of Many • Project based on Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots. Helping the:
  10. 10. How to Maintain the Garden • Environmental Club • Propose school-wide work parties- hang signs, school announcements • Request volunteers from community and school from email and facebook- send garden updates for times to volunteer (be sure to give back horticultural education or food)
  11. 11. How to Use the Garden
  12. 12. Sample class ideas • Culinary Garden: Home and Careers- cooking classes • Scented garden: AP Biology- olfactory chemicals lab • Medicinal garden: World Languages- vocabulary • Native garden: Regents Biology- animal-plant ecology • Stone garden: Earth Science- rock identification • Zen garden: Social Studies- Buddhism • Bird Thicket: Field Biology- bird behavior • Butterfly garden- Field Biology- insect identification • Bee garden: Math classes- Fibonacci numbers • All gardens: Art classes- photography
  13. 13. Snacks in the Courtyard
  14. 14. Art in the Courtyard
  15. 15. Coffee in the Courtyard