Work by Jeremy Thorne

22 April 2002

A Simple Memorial Courtyard Transformed:
Featuring Beauty, Function, & Wildlife Habitat


D. W. Daniel High School, "The Home of the Lions", serves three diverse communities - Six Mile, Central, and Clemson, South Carolina. Daniel has a student population of 955 enrolled in grades 9 - 12 and holds a highly regarded reputation of education in the state. The Student Body of the school asked Clemson University's Department of Horticulture to revive their memorial courtyard, a space dedicated to students who have lost their lives while attending Daniel. The Student Body established the memorial courtyard with a memorial stone and tree. The main purpose of the courtyard, to reflect and repose, has been depreciated over time. Now this space just acts as a walkway for students and not a memorial. Recently, the Student Body has shown a new interest in the memorial courtyard by designing a fountain and flowerbeds that will be placed in the center of the courtyard. They have also adopted the theme of metamorphous by wanting a butterfly garden. The stages of a butterfly's life are symbolic in life, death, and rebirth. The objective was to design a space that honors deceased students while giving current students a place to learn, enjoy, interact, and relax between class breaks among butterflies.


The design consists of a main axis that interlocks an entrance, the fountain, and the memorial. There is also a secondary axis that intersects the main axis and fountain. There are three outdoor rooms placed along these axis. Each room is a gathering space for students, but each room has a different function. The space that holds the memorial is intended to hold fewer students and acts as a private room for reflection. The benches in this space occupy fewer students than the rest of the garden. The benches are also focused on the memorial stone and tree. The space includes a small grass lawn lined with Creeping Lily Turf.


The central space within the memorial garden contains the fountain and butterfly garden. All of the plants within the 4 beds attract butterflies. Since the garden has a metamorphosis theme, the beds must contain plants that provide shelter and satisfy larval and adult needs. The plants include Shasta Daisy 'Becky', Parsley, Dill, Sage, Rosemary, Verbena, Lantana, Scabiosa, Black Eyed Susan, Cosmo, Hardy Aster, Butterfly Weed, Sedum Autumn Joy, Silver Mound Artemisia, and many varieties of Monarda. The fountain also provides water for student's enjoyment and nourishment for the butterflies. The fountain is surrounded by an annual bed. Pansies are planted for fall, winter, and spring color; Marigolds are planted for spring, summer, and fall color. Curved benches are placed between the fountain and the butterfly flowerbeds providing a casual seating area. The mulch path around each bed provides a leaning experience for students to walk up close to the plant and animal life. People may enter the butterfly garden through either of the two axis. The secondary axis is framed by two Butterfly Bushes on each side accenting the butterfly garden.


The third room is a gathering space for outdoor teaching. The benches hold more students and are designed to initiate conversation. They are enclosed with Dwarf Yaupon Hollies that create a low wall that separates the circulation from the teaching space. This space also has a small lawn lined with Creeping Lily Turf. One can enter this space through a trellis covered with Fiveleaf Akebia that connects the school and the garden.


All existing vegetation was untouched. Although, many of the trees are recommended to be attended to and maintained because of their health. The design filled many of the gaps among the azaleas and dogwoods by proposing more plantings in these places.


There is seasonal interest throughout the year. The azaleas and dogwoods provide spring color. The butterfly garden provides interest and wildlife throughout the spring, summer, and fall months. The annual bed colors the fall, winter, and spring months. Crape Myrtles have color in late summer and dogwoods and hollies have attractive fruit in fall.


Sustainability was addressed throughout the design. First, the lawn areas are small and curved. This allows for easy mowing. The Liriope that lines the lawn areas are attractive, low maintenance and drought tolerant plants. The only attention they need is mowing in February. All of the flowers in the butterfly garden are drought tolerant perennials which need little care after established. Most of the vegetation in the garden provides food or shelter for animals and insects. The existing Dogwoods and Hollies provide berries for birds in the fall and winter months. The large existing Maples also provide shade and shelter for birds. Recycled mulch within the beds hold in moisture and introduce nutrients into the soil. The only energy used within the garden would be the fountain pump. There will be no lighting because of its daytime usage.


In conclusion, this Memorial Courtyard design is sustainable and meets the needs of the Student Body. The garden design provides a place for students to reflect on lost ones, enjoy wildlife, and learn in a safe and comfortable environment.