By Linda Hamilton and Karen Tuininga, Library Garden Stewards

(L to R) Toni Sunderland, Linda Hamilton, Rick Junge, Alison Williams, Deirdre Holmes, Elizabeth Harding, Leslie Carew, Karen Tuininga and Carol Geske add four American hazelnut trees to the north end of the Library garden Nov. 3. Thank you to The Charlotte News for generously donating these trees! Photo contributed

(L to R) Toni Sunderland, Linda Hamilton, Rick Junge, Alison Williams, Deirdre Holmes, Elizabeth Harding, Leslie Carew, Karen Tuininga and Carol Geske add four American hazelnut trees to the north end of the Library garden Nov. 3. Thank you to The Charlotte News for generously donating these trees! Photo contributed.

We hope you have enjoyed watching the library’s new gardens come to life this spring and summer and stay interesting even as they begin to shut down for the winter.

The large rain garden, along the east side of the building where the entrance driveway used to be, is well on its way to qualifying as a Lewis Creek Association Ahead of the Storm demonstration site. After the driveway paving was removed last year, most of the area was sculpted into a wide shallow basin and painstakingly planted with almost 1,500 young, water-loving perennials and shrubs. Thanks again to the several hardy volunteers who did all that planting! It was a satisfaction and delight to see those plants begin to settle in this year. Next year we should see them really take hold and spread out.

The purpose of the rain garden is to manage the significant amount of water running off the library roof, especially in storm events, and prevent it from causing erosion and sediment load in nearby streams, which empty into Lake Champlain. It uses the permaculture approach to water management: slow it, spread it and sink it. Because this is an effective way to improve water quality in Lake Champlain, the garden also qualifies as a University of Vermont Sea Grant water management site in their Blue program.

What about those big rain barrels? Yes, they are big! But so much water comes off the roof that they need to be correspondingly large. When full, the barrels release water slowly into the rain garden through buried perforated pipes. We can also attach hoses to the barrels to hand water when needed.

This November we turned our attention to the area north of the rain garden and closest to Ferry Road, which last year was put on hold under a thick blanket of wood chips while we were concentrating elsewhere. (Thank you to Road Commissioner Jr Lewis for cheerfully bringing those truckloads of wood chips to the gardens whenever we asked.) This fall we were ready to move forward, starting with the planting of four American hazelnut trees, generously donated by our friends at The Charlotte News! These attractive, multi-stem trees will provide structure in that part of the garden and very tasty nuts (if we beat the squirrels to them!).

The brightest garden spot has been what we think of as the Welcome Garden, wrapping around the south end of the building and following the sidewalk west to the main entrance on the porch and east to the program room entrance. The focus of this garden is to be pollinator friendly, combined with culinary and medicinal herbs, a few vegetables and berries, and creating a beautifully exuberant array of color to welcome library patrons. This year the zinnias were perhaps over-exuberant in height and branches heavy with flowers! But really, can one ever get too much of that zinnia eye candy? No…. We say bring it on!

The library’s other significant garden area is the Food Garden behind Quinlan School. Using raised beds enriched with compost, we have been growing both heritage vegetables as a source of seeds to distribute through the Seed Library and a few sturdy (heritage) vegetables for the Charlotte Food Shelf. This year we harvested garlic, potatoes and winter squash (and one giant volunteer sunflower!).

Gardens at the library are not possible without community support. To learn more about the growing team of Garden Stewards and how you might help, please contact us at [email protected] It’s not all about weeding and watering (although there is that to attend to, for sure). For example, over the winter we’ll be working on educational signage and developing ideas for programs making use of the gardens. Join the team and become the part of the library family of volunteers that likes getting down and dirty!

2021 library, garden helpers
Sincere thanks to the volunteers who got down and dirty in the Library Garden with Linda Hamilton and Karen Tuininga this year:  Leslie Carew, Jim Donovan, Abel Fillion, Carol Geske, Janice Heilmann, Cathy Hunter, Elizabeth Harding, Deirdre Holmes, Rick Junge, Wolfger Schneider, Toni Sunderland and Alison Williams.