Bergamo Center's courtyard transforms into a native plant habitat
Brent Devitt, Executive Director of the Bergamo Center for Lifelong Learning, Dayton, OH sends us this update — beautiful examples of Marianist Encounters in retreat center ministry.
Bergamo Center celebrates the transformation of the center's courtyard into a native plant demonstration area. Guests attending this past summer's Midwest Native Plant Society Annual Conference at Mount Saint John were taken on a Bergamo courtyard tour guided by Michele Banker and River Johnson of MEEC (Marianist Environmental Education Center).
Michele and River planted and maintained the courtyard's two native plant areas over the past two years. The creation of the native plant areas was supported partially by a grant of $1,000 from the Midwest Native Plant Society.
The Native Plant Feature replaced a concrete water structure from the 1960s and included a small brook, hearkening to one of William Joseph Chaminade's famous quotes, "I am like a brook…." This new brook was designed and constructed by the Mount Saint John Facilities' staff member Mike McCormick. The Native Plant Feature blooms from spring through fall with many species, including butterfly weed, dense blazing star, and flowering spurge. Visitors will be able to see how they support pollinators, act as host plants, and provide food and habitat for wildlife.
A second native landscape within the courtyard features little bluestem grasses. Bro. Don Geiger, SM, MEEC Founder, initiated the restoration work at Mount Saint John over 35 years ago with a 14-acre tall grass prairie seeded on a barren sand and gravel borrow pit left after interstate road construction. This keyhole prairie planting will allow visitors to see the beauty of native grasses and perhaps remind us of our call to care for creation.
The courtyard was contoured during a recent renovation to divert rainfall away from the Bergamo Center building and towards both native plant areas. The plants soak up the water and do not require watering, fertilizer, or mowing over the summer. The area demonstrates what homeowners can do with a relatively small area in their own yards to make it more attractive to pollinators and to help buffer stormwater runoff.
Converting the courtyard at Bergamo into a native plant showcase accomplishes the Marianist Encounter Goals of transforming our church and world through Integral Ecology by educating guests at the Bergamo Center about ecological solutions to better care of our earth and creation. The project further fosters sustainable lifestyles that folks can adapt as they care for their homes and gardens.