A Japanese Garden Grows in Putney

With major financial help from PCS’s PTO, supplemented by funds from our School Board, Putney Central took on a project to build our own Japanese-style garden. The entire school community, both adults and children, donated their time, effort, plants, stones, and labor to make it a reality.

During the spring of 2005, students and teachers engage in an ambitious cross-curricular program that involved studing traditional Japanese garden design in their art classes, the history of Japanese design in social studies, and elemental horticultur in science. Then, they proceeded to design their own garden. Students soon recognized the need to adapt certain aspects of their project to the harsh northern New England climate.  A master plan was drawn up - with the assistance of Rod Payne-Meyer of Creative Landscapes here in Putney - that was faithful to our students' designs and took into consideration appropriate plant selection.

The following images show the garden as it progressed from an under-utilized area of our school grounds to a campus focal point and source of enormous pride for our entire school community.

The project began with the removal of all the grass in the area.  Students were invested in and proud of their garden because of their full participation in its design and construction.  Paths were placed and tree planting began.  With winter setting in there was little to do but wait until spring to resume the project.

Since winter is prime logging time, students took advantage of the cold weather and ventured out to our school forest, where they selected, then harvested two black locust trees to be used as an arched entrance to our garden.  Several art classes took on the project of de-barking the trees.

A parent of three students, Bob Simeon, the building trades teacher at the Windham Regional Career Center, took the locusts and had his students fashion them into a beautiful arch which featured traditional mortise and tenon joinery.  Once the archway was built, a bell was installed and rung for the very first time.

The planting then began in earnest.  Pachysandra, myrtle, hosta, and bamboo filled the garden and took root.  A beautiful water feature, an essential component of any classic Japanese garden, was installed, completing this exemplary community project.