Maplewood has been awarded a $2,400 Bright Green Future Grant from the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability to renew our Courtyard Pollinator Garden.
Our school courtyard is the heart of the campus. Students walk through it on their way to and from the main building, portables, playground, and athletic fields. It is partly shaded by a large live oak, and there are several existing pollinator-friendly plants, including a mountain laurel, roses, turk’s cap and passion vine planted in years past. The fish pond at the center was installed by community members and has been maintained for 20 years. With a few improvements to amplify existing features, the courtyard garden could become a rich resource to the school, community and pollinators.
We proposed making the courtyard a vibrant wildlife habitat and a more accessible space for the school community and the many neighbors who visit campus on weekends. Steps include repairing the water pump, creating a path around the pond and into it with limestone flagstones, removing hackberry saplings, planting heat tolerant natives that will provide providing food for butterflies (and their larvae), hummingbirds, and bees, and installing signage to educate visitors about the elements of a successful pollinator garden.
The first phase of this project was carried out in the fall with a large donation of plants by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and a successful garden work day in held in October with the support of Keep Austin Beautiful. KAB loaned us lots of tools and donated 12 yards of mulch to enrich the soil and protect the new plants over the winter. A second courtyard garden work day is planned for Saturday, March 9. We plan to apply for certification as a Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch.
We hope to build on work done in years past and amplify the features that make our courtyard such a magical space. It will be a vibrant wildlife habitat where children can see pollinators up close and access their beloved fish pond more easily. With improved accessibility and educational signage, teachers will be able to bring their students to the courtyard for lessons about the wildlife that live there or visit it. Signage on the role of pollinators, elements of a successful pollinator garden, and native plants included in the design is a crucial piece of the project, educating visitors to the courtyard from the school community and broader neighborhood.