On the warm day in June when the public was invited to see the extensive Village School rain garden and hear a few speeches, a few rain drops fell, ever so gently. Mother Nature signaled she was definitely present, and participating.
More than 50 people gathered on June 14 to see what they've heard so much about. There, in the courtyard of the elementary school, they found a space molded into many rounded, green rolling hills, like something out of Teletubbyland. Gardens were planted around four stone pathways, where roof rainwater would be directed to irrigate plant life. Children could not resist dashing over the little knolls to explore the strange place.
In her remarks, Superintendent of Schools Barbara Duncan said what many were thinking, "The first thing I said when I came in was, 'My Goodness, can you remember when this was all blacktop!' "
Many residents donated money to create the 10,000 square foot rain garden, and many professionals had a hand in its construction. But 839 Holmdel school children literally got their hands dirty helping to build it. In a two-day period recently, teachers guided K-3rd graders to place 630 plants in each of the four gardens, which represent the seasons. (Parents, just try to visualize that for a second.)
Each seasonal garden will shine in its time of year, and is designed to attract birds and butterfly visitors. For example, now that it is June, the rainfall on the school roof will be directed down water spouts and through tubes to water the roots of butterfly bush, swamp milkweed, coneflowers and black-eyed susans in the Summer Garden. In the Fall, asters and goldenrod and grasses will show their colors. In the winter, certain trees will produce berries for the birds. Already, there is a perfect little nest in one of them.
In addition to being a teaching and learning resource, the rain garden will also function to reduce flooding in the nearby Ramanessin Brook, by redirecting the rainfall.
See Patch's video to hear from some of the people behind one of Holmdel's latest local landmark, made especially for children. (Due to its location inside the school, the garden is not open to the public.) Director of Operations William "Bill" Balicki, who was given credit by Jeremiah Bergstrom of the Rutgers Water Resource Program for imagining what could happen if they ripped up the blacktop and planted a rain garden.
"He had a vision," Bergstrom said.
"This can be amazing," I said. "Let's figure it out."