Tucked in-between JPII’s school and adult wings is a beautiful garden, tended with love and great care by a dedicated group of volunteers.
“It’s not just gardening when the other volunteers and I come to plant, weed and water – it’s a gathering of friends,” shares Priscilla P., the growing force behind Mary’s Garden. Providing beautiful gardens for the students, adults and staff to enjoy, learn and benefit from is important to Priscilla and to all the volunteers who come to lovingly tend Mary’s Garden.
Special features include:
- Pizza garden – Shaped just like a pizza pie, this garden includes tomatoes, basil, garlic, peppers, oregano and other herbs or toppings that you would find on pizza, although Priscilla added that there are no pineapple or bacon plants!
- Sensory garden – New and nearing completion this garden has scented and tactile plants to stimulate the students’ and adults’ senses.
- Animal garden – Features plants with animal or insect names: Lamb’s Ear, Tick Weed, Ostrich Fern, Mouse Ear Hosta, Snap Dragon, Alligator Slipper, Toad Lily, Turtle Head and a Dogwood Tree!
- Composters – Students and adults put plant-based food scraps and eggshells from the cafeteria in the tumblers and rotate to learn more about the composting process.
- Root viewing gardens – Sliding panels on the raised brick planters reveal clear panels so students and adults can study root development on plants such as carrots, potatoes and peanuts.
A new handcrafted, stained-glass piece is being installed later this summer as a centerpiece of the garden. It will be positioned so the sun can shine through it, illuminating the garden in colorful light.
Besides the regular volunteer work force, other groups have been active in improving and expanding the gardens. The raised beds, white vinyl fencing, and vertical gardens were all completed by local Boy Scouts. Later this summer the Berks County Herb Society is adopting the garden to provide additional assistance.
Priscilla said that when school is in session the students and adults work and help in the garden and ask lots of questions. It’s more than just a garden – it is an extension of JPII’s classrooms.
How you can help: Donations: Blue perennials for the stained-glass garden such as Blue Siberian Iris, a Nandina (False Bamboo) and bagged brown mulch. Volunteering: Volunteers are always welcome. The gardening group meets Tuesday mornings at 8:30 a.m.
Contact JPII at 610-777-0605 to get more information about volunteering or to make a donation to Mary’s Garden.