Using funds received through the Sustainability Fee Grant, the old parking lot of the Botanical Garden has been transformed using eco-friendly materials and methods.
The new green gateway encompasses the former Botanical Garden parking lot, which used to be accessed via a red wrought iron gate, just before the Bland cottage.
"Reclaim and reshape" is the motto Botanical Garden Director Carolyn Altman adopted for the new green gateway. A new beginning not only for the Botanical Garden but for the land itself.
"From a compacted, eroded parking lot to a series of intriguing gardens," is how Altman describes the new green gateway.
The gateway begins in the new parking lot which is now directly accessible further down on Bland St. As you enter the parking lot you will notice designated parking places, whereas before, parking was a free-for-all.
The parking lot was created using water permeable pavers covered by a thin layer of gravel. This is to help prevent water runoff from flooding Fair Road as it used to every time it rained.
The next new feature of the garden is a small wooden building. This building acts as the welcome center during events. The building is made of recycled materials. Its tin roof was salvaged from an old shed that sat on the Botanical Garden's property.
Connected to this building is a brand new fence which is draped in soundproofing tarp to dampen the noise levels of the student workers as they build the new garden addition.
Through the opening of the welcome center is the new garden. A small bridge crosses over a swampy marsh-like creek. This is the garden's new seasonal creek. The water runoff that previously flooded Fair Road now runs along a channel obstructed by rock levees and into this creek.
This helps to create wet pockets which are rich in nutrients that help promote biodiversity. The grass around this area is noticeably darker due to the high levels of nutrients in the water.
To the right of this seasonal creek will be a labyrinth which is currently in the process of being built. Altman predicts that it will be completely finished by the end of the spring semester.
Further up the path that connects to the Bland Cottage is a gallery garden. A few of the nearly 100 species of trees the garden grows are planted in a circle encompassing an open clearing with a few benches inside for relaxing.
This new addition, from the parking lot to the gallery garden near the Bland Cottage has been entirely built by students. These students range in age and major yet their dedication to the Botanical Garden is unmatched.
"We've planted over a hundred trees already, and more plants go in the ground every day," Altman said of the quick progress the student workers are making.
Altman plans to apply for another Sustainability Fee Grant in order to further the eco-friendly development of the garden and predicts that, if successful, the green gateway will be fully complete by summer or fall of 2020.
Skyler Collins, The George-Anne Candidate, email@example.com