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Florida Master Naturalist Outdoor Classroom

This outdoor classroom was designed for an elementary school to fulfill a Florida Master Naturalist Program certification requirement. The design was inspired by Florida's pine flatwoods ecosystems, the ecosystem that would have existed in this location prior to development. The location already has ample slash pine cover, so the plants chosen are largely understory and groundcover plants. The classroom will be enclosed by a border of understory shrubs to promote a feeling of immersion in nature. The winding pathway gently meandering through swaying lopsided Indian grass and Florida paintbrush, dotted with the lavender blooms of the lyre leaf sage will further draw the students into their nature inspired learning experience. The enchanting blooms of the goldenrod, coreopsis, starry rosinflower, paw paw, Florida paintbrush, and lyre leaf sage will attract an array of butterflies and other pollinators. The garden will be frequented by songbirds seeking the berries and seeds that the wax myrtle, beautyberry, saw palmettoes, and grasses will provide. As the children explore their way through the meadow of wildflowers and ornamental grasses they will come to the classroom portion of the garden, a courtyard of overlapping circles constructed with contrasting stone textures. The overlapping circles and the resulting vesica piscis they create, are symbolic of the union of a person's energy with nature's energy. The slash pines, cabbage palms, and wax myrtles will keep the children shaded and safe as they explore nature and the bee attracting plants are set off the path to diminish the chances of a sting.

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