The Thinking Tree Reading Garden Project


The Thinking Tree Reading Garden would beautify a barren lot on the grounds of Polk Elementary School, near the intersection of Polk Avenue with North Pickett Street, where a majestic oak sits.

Intended for demolition to make way for a construction entrance, the beautiful oak was spared. With its successful effort to save the tree, the school community realized that it should honor this wonderful natural resource -- particularly since it stands at a site that uses other natural resources (geothermal and solar energy) for heating and cooling.

  • The Thinking Tree Reading Garden would be an inviting, open-air area under the shade of the oak tree, with a semicircle of benches and tables where children could read peacefully on a sunny day.
  • Next to the reading area would be a student-maintained “xeriscape,” or water-conserving landscaped area filled with indigenous plants well-suited to our climate and soil.
  • Situated at the foot of a downward slope, the xeriscape would be irrigated with runoff from the adjacent blacktop area and would reinforce the school's commitment to renewable resources.

The reading garden would instill in children not only an appreciation for all things green but also an awareness of the natural resources that provide shade, comfort, and beauty.

The attached photos show the oak tree itself and the placement of the proposed equipment around the tree (the blue circles denote equipment). The James K. Polk PTA asks for funding for the following equipment for the Thinking Tree Reading Garden:

  •  Four round tables with benches (estimate: $1,020 per table)
  • A trash receptacle (estimate: $351)
  • Delivery and installation fees (estimate: $500)

 Our PTA would provide a border around the reading garden area; surfacing for the garden area (decomposed granite suggested); and indigenous plants for the xeriscape. This grant would allow us to turn our vision into reality, as fundraising capabilities are limited at our Title 1 school, with more than 50 percent of the population on free or reduced lunch. We thank you for your considering this request to bring the Thinking Tree Reading Garden to life for the children of the West End!


I am so glad for this

I am so glad for this project, we need to come all together and make this happening for our kids at Polk. I'm asking all my family to log in and vote! Thank you Betsy.

Thank goodness the tree (and my daughter) were spared

My daughter, all 8 years of her, went over to the tree when she saw the men with chainsaws and adhered herself to the tree and refused to budge. Luckily, the men said they were only trimming the lower branches to make way for the construction trucks and the tree (and Erica) were spared!

Great idea!

This is such a beautiful tree, I have always admired it. Go Polk! maybe get a few Owl sculptures nearby!

Love this idea!

Love this idea!

Reading Green!

Polk students will enjoy learning and keeping in touch with mother nature.Please, help us to continue building our "greenovations" at Polk, in the constructionand in our kids lives

Awesome Idea

What a great idea for our students. I hope we win.

Reading Tree

I can already visualize bringing the library classes out to the tree for a story! What a great idea for our students.Nancy FugeJames K. Polk ElementaryLibrarian

Love it !

 I love your idea Betsy!!!! and also I share on my facebook. 

This Tree Needs Children!

This tree reminds me of the Giving Tree, it's been sad without the children.  If we receive this grant, this would be such a wonderful environment to promote literacy and green living.


Our students would benefit from this!!! Please vote!!!! 

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