The "Hudson House" outdoor classroom
The large covered pavilion in the back of the school is called the "Hudson House" in honor of the amazing leader and principal, David Hudson.
Principal from 2003-2017, Mr. Hudson supported the construction and use of the gardens throughout his time at the school. Holton was so lucky to have him at the helm and we wish him the best as he moves on to his new role as Principal at Franklin Military Academy.
The Hudson House came about as an all-volunteer effort of parents, teachers and community members in 2010. Mary Lorino lead the design team and worked with husband Chris Chase of Chris Chase Studio. Balzer and Associates, Inc. was instrumental in the design collaboration as well.
The design and construction of the Hudson House was recognized with a Golden Hammer Award in 2011. These awards are given by Better Housing Coalition, a nonprofit housing advocacy group, to celebrate neighborhood revitalization and preservation excellence.
The garden area contains over 20 wooden raised beds.
While some beds are used for growing herbs and other perennials, the majority of the beds are reserved for a single class or classes.
This way, the students of each class can observe the changes the tiny seeds they plant go through throughout the growing season.
The students have a voice in what they choose to plant and are always excited to taste the rewards of their hard work!
These garden beds were built in the shape of a butterfly to help students recognize that all plants in the area are excellent for attracting pollinators.
Pollinating animals and insects such as bees, butterflies, and birds seek out these native plants.
This area also contains butterfly host plants, where butterflies eat and lay their eggs. These plants then become a food source for the emerging caterpillars.
In the warm months, this area of The Dandelion is teeming with winged wildlife!
This area of the garden contains native fruit trees, nut trees, and berry bushes.
Persimmon, apple, fig, and mulberry trees are found in the Edible Forest.
A hazelnut tree as well as blackberry and raspberry bushes are also found in this verdant patch of The Dandelion.
Didn't think a shed could be beautiful? Wait until you see this one!
Decorated with a colorful mosiac and lined with chalkboards, the garden tool shed contains materials for working and learning.
30 toolkits containing dry erase boards, pens, compasses, magnifying glasses, rulers, tweezers, and a tray allow students to have their own work materials when they arrive to the garden.
On top of the shed is a green, or living roof. The students are always shocked to see that the roof is covered with plants. They then learn about the many benefits of a living roof, including reduced stormwater runoff and building temperature insulation.
There are two rain gardens located around the school.
The largest is found in the center island of the front parking lot. The installation of the project was funded and managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, its many partners and donors. The Bay Foundation selected this site to meet water quality improvement goals in the local water shed and to demonstrate how Virginia state storm water regulations can be met.
A smaller rain garden can be found in the back of the school near The Hudson House.
Both sites slow and reduce rain water runoff before it can reach the storm drain. When runoff enters the rain gardens, the excess water is filtered by vegetation, plant roots, and microbial life in the soil.