In May, The Horticultural Society of New York joined forces with students at Emma Lazarus High School (ELHS) to install a beautiful garden and inspirational learning area. ELHS is dedicated to assisting English language learners thrive in and out of the class room. With the diverse student population in mind – hailing from Ecuador, Haiti, and China, to name a few – ELHS and The Hort brought the universal language of gardening to every young adult.
The ‘Poet’s Garden’, named by students to honor poet (and school) Emma Lazarus*, is located in the Lower East Side on the corner of Hester and Eldridge street. As we see so often in the city, the scrap of land housed little more than a few trees and a tuft of grass. After a combined total of 150 volunteer hours the site is a shadow of its former self. Following a design they helped create, students conditioned soil, created two ovular beds, planted two more trees, laid a stone walkway, and tended to any stray weeds.
The new plants and trees not only add to the immediate beauty but also lead to long-term garden viability – a strong groundwork to grow forward. The plant list included: Hostas, Bee Balm, Hellebores, Andromeda bushes, and lavender. The trees, a Coral Bark Japanese Maple and a Dwarf Lace Leaf Japanese Maple, will add plenty of shade to this unique and special area.
Over the next month, The Hort will continue to work with the students to maintain the space. Through regular maintenance, garden education, and time spent enjoying and meditating in the outdoors, the hope is to instill a sense of pride and ownership in the garden’s ultimate stewards: the students.
*Emma Lazarus is a famous American poet whose most recognized work, The New Colossus, can be found inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The stanza, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” is often considered one of the most powerful and recognizable pieces of American writing.