Work by Jeremy Kelly

Reflecting Among Butterflies

April 23, 2002


D. W. Daniel High School is home to this project. Having just a few hundred students, it supports the towns of Central, Six Mile and Clemson. Daniel High sits by itself among a wooded area bordered on two sides by roads. Within the school, there are two courtyards surrounded on all sides by the building. Our site is one of these. Daniel High School students wanted to fix up this memorial courtyard and make it a place where they would want to come visit. Daniel recently lost one of its students bringing the sudden concern and motivation to fix up this courtyard. On the NW side of the courtyard nestled under a Bradford Pear is a memorial to all the students who have died while attending D. W. Daniel. Other than this one marker, there is nothing to reflect on or even suggest the purpose of this garden. The client, a senior at Daniel High, is determined to see this project get underway before he graduates. He drew up a quick plan of what he wanted and came to us asking if we could create a butterfly garden with-in this courtyard. He wanted a gathering space.


The client's design contained a fountain in the middle of the courtyard with a path and planting beds encircling it. The challenge was to make this circular design fit in the rectangular courtyard. In order to do this, there are swooping curvilinear beds on either end to hold the center circle in place. The bed on the SE end is designed as an outdoor classroom. The classroom is defined by holly ferns, which line the inner border. A sitting wall separates the sidewalk from the bed. This provides seating for the classroom while at the same time controlling traffic flow. Shredded recycled tires will be used for the mulch in this area. Two River Birches provide shade for the outdoor classroom and also frame the view of the rest of the garden as one walks out into the courtyard.


The butterfly garden is placed in the center around the fountain area. The goal here is to create an outdoor room where one can go to reflect on a past student or perhaps on life as a whole. The theme that the client wants here is the cycle of life, being the reason of the circular design and the butterfly garden. A trellis system, covered in Yellow Jessamine, swings around the path on the SE half. Each section of the trellis has its own swing so that students can come enjoy this space under the Jessamine and escape the everyday life of school. This space can also be used as an outdoor classroom if so desired. Anchoring the trellis in place are butterfly bushes on the outer realm of the SW side of the circle. These will help to close in this space, bring August color with flowers that attract a range of butterflies. On the opposite side of the circle are benches closing in the tire-mulched path. They are angle around like the trellis rather than curved, set up on axis with the trellis. Circling behind the benches is Lantana. These will bring a good, somewhat low, late summer/early fall color. These flowers will close out the season every year with marvelous reds, yellows and oranges which encourage some butterflies such as the swallow tails to stick around as long as possible. The Lantana is also located at the entrance of the butterfly garden, greeting people as they come into this sacred space. Behind these are five large Chaste Trees. These will grow to be about 10 feet in height closing in this side of the room. They are loose growing and have interesting form in the winter months. They also attract butterflies with their sweet nectar. Bordering the butterfly garden all the way around is Phlox. This is a low growing ground cover, which will fill in the outer realm. Butterflies love its nectar as well. It is a spring bloomer, bringing the butterflies in as soon as possible. In the raised planting bed in which the fountain sits will be Shasta Daisies possibly mixed with annuals (depending on the clients wants).


The bed on the NW end of the courtyard is the other "holder of the circle". It is planted with Crape Myrtles, Dwarf Gardenias and Winter Jasmine all planted in such a way to bring your focus to the existing memorial. This is accomplished by bringing the height down as it comes in to the center and by swinging the beds into the center leaving it open to accent this memorial piece.


The side beds are lined with Crape Myrtles, which bloom white to lighten up the courtyard during the late summer months. These trees will also screen out any activity that may be going on in the courtyard during classes meanwhile allowing you to see through them to view the garden spaces from the classrooms. Semi-circular raised planting beds along the side of the building contain low growing azaleas bringing some of the butterflies into this spaces while at the same time bringing life to the outer portions of the courtyard during the spring months with their blooms. In the other semi-circular beds along the sidewalks, Dwarf Nandina bunch up together providing a nice red hue to the area. Planted among the Crape Myrtles, weaving through the raised beds is Periwinkle. This softens up the area and has a nice blue flower in the spring.


This courtyard is designed with sustainability in mind. Most of the plants used are fairly drought tolerant and need little to no care, with exception the butterfly bushes, which will need to be cut back every fall. Using recycled tires for the paths and outdoor classroom helps out the environment and cuts back on the need to replace mulch in these areas. Medal strips will be used for the borders cutting back on the need to constantly maintain the edges. The deciduous trees around the edges of the courtyard provide for shade in the summer and sun in the winter to help to reduce energy prices that come with heating and cooling. The garden should be able to take care of and support itself for years to come.


With all this in mind, D. W. Daniel High School's courtyard will be a pleasant and exciting one. The butterfly garden creates a place where students can have a place to hangout and enjoy each other's company in a more solitude space. The overall design provides spaces for art classes to create new and exciting things, biology classes to study nature as it happens, English classes to come out a read while enjoying a nice day and many other classes to come and use this space without bothering the surrounding classrooms. This design celebrates life as it happens while at the same time causes those who experience it to reflect on past lives. This space could be here for years to come for generations to enjoy and remember those who came before them.