The Gathering Garden

The Gathering Garden is a teaching garden up behind the gym that has plants used for basketry and fiber dye. It was created as a place to gather and learn about where natural materials originate and how they are processed and used. Through a generous grant from the Bridgeman Trust and PrO, two artists-in-residence, Kerstin Nichols and Sarah Heimann worked endless hours with students and art teachers, Ellen Haun and Robin Henry, to make the garden with an outdoor classroom space.

In the fall of 2005, every fourth and fifth grade class used a material called cob which is made of clay, sand and straw to build a base for a bench. The cob was mixed on a tarp using the students bare feet and then was sculpted onto a cement base. During the winter and spring, the same classes created clay mosaic bench tops to add to their base. The benches were designed and built as a collaborative project by each class using the theme of the earth’s elements. The benches represent fire, water, earth or air. During this process, all other Ray School students created clay leaves that were used to build a spiral path in the garden.

Finally, in the fall of 2006, fourth grade students worked with botanist, Bruce Riggs and planted over 35 varieties of flowers, shrubs, grasses and ferns to make our gathering garden blossom! Since that time, plants have been harvested and fourth graders have tended the garden and used some of the materials. The first fiber dyed wool was processed in the fall of 2007 and many grasses and leaves were collected and dried for coiled baskets. The garden is a welcome space that is used for groups to gather for class work, discussions, observation and quiet reflection.