Work by Adam Ormsbee Since the opening of Daniel High School, many students have been killed during the school year. As a last project and a gift to the fallen students, the current senior class wanted to create a memorial garden in their honor. This garden would be located in the interior courtyard of the high school. One student designed the area to include an existing fountain, seating benches, new pathways with stepping-stones, and planting beds.
The initial design that was handed to us was planned very well, but needed some minor changes and plants added to the beds. Starting with the pathways, they needed to be widened to 4.5 feet. This would be a better size to allow for pedestrian access. I chose to break up the continuous ring of seating to allow sight lines to other areas of the site and to the plants in the surrounding beds.
The beds were kept to the same dimensions, but to add interest to the large open space, to different types of plant materials were chosen. One of the materials was the Lenten Rose, which is an evergreen ground cover that grows to a height of 4 to 6 inches and has white flowers during the early spring. To contrast this material, Tulips were placed in between the Rose plantings. This would enable a star pattern to be seen at all times of the year. The tulips would bloom in the spring and then die off for the rest of the season, while the Rose ground cover would remain a dark green the entire year.
The interior bed that surrounds the fountain would be planted with the same Tulips that were planted in the exterior beds. This would visually tie the two areas together and create a dialogue between the two spaces.
An important aspect of a memorial garden is a sense of privacy. In a schoolyard however, the area needs to be visually open for security reasons. To remedy this problem, Crape Myrtles were planted in a circular pattern around the plaza to create a low canopy and Winter Daphne and Nandina were planted in between the Crape Myrtles. This would create a sense of enclosure, but due to the open form of the Crape Myrtles, Nandina, and Winter Daphne, the area could still be easily viewed into. These plants were also chosen because of their flowering times. The Winter Daphne and Nandina flower and produce berries during the winter and keep fruit into the school year. The Crape Myrtles would flower in the spring, but would have a sculptural form in the winter.
All of these areas were designed to be sustainable. In a schoolyard setting there will be a lot of traffic and abuse to the materials. The plants that were chosen are very hardy and should last a long time in the courtyard. The beds were enlarged around trees to reduce water to cut down on the amount of turf areas. Trees were planted to allow for mature sizes and not just to look pleasing at the time of the planting. With good watering in the first year, the area should become well established and the courtyard should flourish. This memorial will become a place where students can go to remember and sit to enjoy to scenery.