The Key School in Annapolis engages children from 2.5 years of age until 12th grade in an expansive educational curriculum. The school grounds were already home to a Sacred Place, but over the years the boundary of the Sacred Place shifted as the school’s built environment changed. Rediscovered in 2018 by a group of Key School students, the Nature Sacred bench and Sacred Place became the subject of a podcast. Now, a relocation and redesign of the Sacred Place is needed to accommodate the current needs of the school and its population. The new location for the Sacred Place, in a central location on the Key School’s campus, will be a place for students to seek respite during the day, in line with the school’s aim to help children mature emotionally, especially with nature as a guide during that process. The Sacred Place can also serve as an educational asset, teaching students to care for and interact with the natural environment around them.
In collaboration with stakeholder groups of Key students and faculty, a new Sacred Place has been designed to engage students of all ages. Reflective of the students’ request for additional group and individual seating was needed, so three seating nooks, one Nature Sacred bench and two boulder seating areas, were added. Each will be carpeted with sedge sprinkled with spring ephemerals for a burst of whimsy in the spring. Near the Nature Sacred bench will be a tree stump, another feature the students connected strongly with. The existing sine curve-like shrub planting will be mirrored and enhanced, and additional perennials added in elliptical shapes inspired by planetary orbits. Plants were chosen with an eye to activate the space with color, shape, and multisensory interest all year round. The pathway, with the offshoot takes on the curvature of a river and its tributaries. A fairy garden at one end of the path by the relocated Imagine rock (a gift by the graduating class of 1995) and birdhouses also provide points of interest.
Neha Srinivasan, Nature Sacred Sacred Place Project Manager, landscape designer
Vernon Hustead, Nature Sacred Design Advisor, Hustead LA