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!


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!!!! 

You have my vote!

Betsy, Committed families, supportive neighbors and creative ideas help make Polk a terrific community school.  Providing space for peaceful learning promotes ... peacefulness!!!  Susan Y T

Great idea!

Great idea for the use of this space Betsy!  So happy that the tree is staying!Good luck Polk~Suzanne Johnson  

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