Category: Grice Green Teaching Garden

Final Post from Sammi Smoot

June 29th, 2012: Sammi’s last entry

This will be my last blog entry as the Green Teaching Garden Coordinator.   The new GTG and Marine Biology Graduate Student Association community outreach chair, Hannah Day, will be taking over for me.  Thank you so much for everyone’s help!  I put together a progression of the work that we’ve done in the garden this year as a reminder of how much we have accomplished!


I want to also extend special thank you’s to a few people.  Thank you to the GTG project supervisor and Grice Marine Lab manager, Sarah Oakes, the GML staff; and to Jen Jones, Brian Fisher, and everyone else at the CofC Office of Sustainability ECOllective fund for giving me this opportunity.  And thanks to the Kim Counts (Carolina Clear,) for letting me borrow your green thumb and to David Joyner (Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium and Clemson Extension) for your technical support in the rain water harvesting!

Post from Sammi Smoot

June 28th, 2012: So many peppers!!!

The veggies have really loved the last few weeks of rain we’ve been having!  The sweet peppers are looking really yummy and are a good size.  They will be counted and donated to Crisis Ministries on Meeting Street tomorrow.  Crisis ministries is the largest homeless care provider in South Carolina and was established in a soup kitchen in Grace Episcopal Church in 1984.  The okra is starting to look really good too!  We’ll be harvesting the okra soon too.

Freshly picked peppers! Hope the people at Crisis Ministries enjoy them!


Post from Sammi Smoot

June 9, 2012: The mural is complete!


Troy Ganz, the winner of the campus-wide Green Teaching Garden Mural Contest.  Troy did a great job didn’t he?  The idea of the mural follows the lifecycle of a phoenix.  Here is a written description of the concept of his entry:


The theme of sustainability is captured in this mural by following a sequence of pictures that compare the transition from old-world methods and sources of energy production (old world) to green, renewable forms of energy production (new world) to the life cycle of the phoenix. Traditionally, the phoenix is a symbolic figure used by many cultures to express the eternal principle of nature. After an expanse of time in the adult form, the phoenix builds a nest whereby it settles and combusts into ash. From the ashes an egg is recovered containing the next generation of the only mature phoenix.

For the purposes of this mural, the phoenix, may symbolize the earth, or perhaps a human spirit awakening to the disaster of society’s dependence on non-renewable resources. From left to right the mural reads as follows:

  1. In a nest constructed of litter and trash, a new-born phoenix hatches into a world, to be entirely disrespectful to the natural ecology of earth as polluting power plants, oil, tree, coal mining and dump sites tower above the creature creating a scene of looming disparity under the cover of night and smog.
  2. The landscape is divided by a river as the adult phoenix is seen gliding through the air towards the new-day of eco-conscious, sustainable practices.
  3. The final panel, or right side, retains the symmetry of the picture by placing the nest prepared with fresh twigs in the foreground and rising levels of grasslands filled with renewable sources of energy production such as windmills, solar panels and recycling factories. Fire is consuming the fresh nest and is symbolic of satisfaction with sustainable energy production.


I wanted to also post some pictures from around the garden because it’s looking so beautiful!


(Left) The butterfly garden with butterflies made from recycled aluminum cans by Hannah Day, Meredith Smylie and Michelle Reed.  (Right) Beautiful blooming Marsh Mallow or otherwise known as the native Carolina hibiscus.

Post from Sammi Smoot

Grice Marine Lab Marine-ival: April 9, 2012

Grice Marine Lab had its second annual Marine-ival which also served as the official unveiling of the Green Teaching Garden.  The Marine Biology Graduate Student Association worked year long to put together this event complete with carinival games and food, kids activities, marine touch tank, pie throwing and even a blow up obstacle course.

In the garden there were signs made by student volunteers describing all the work that we’ve done in the garden this semester.  The winner of the campus-wide mural contest, senior Troy Ganz was working on his mural during the event.  The Clemson Extension let us borrow a bike pump display where you ride a bike connected to the main cistern and a sprinkler.


(Left) Mural contest winner, Troy Ganz, painting the cistern mural and (Right) graduate student Michelle D’Aguillo riding the bike pump.

Garden signs completed with the help of Hannah Day, Callie Crawford, Michelle Reed, and Hannah’s boyfriend Troy.  Thanks so much guys!








(Left)Kids at the local marine animal touch tank next to the GTG.  We also had two baby alligators on display! (Right) The highlight of our event (or maybe just what the graduate students were most excited for), a moon bounce obstacle course!

Post from Sammi Smoot

Harborview Elementary School Rain Barrel Painting: March 17th, 2012

Mr. Kacpura, the art teacher at Harborview Elementary school helped to arrange for Students from Mrs. Luckie’s SAIL fourth and fifth grade classes to come and paint the rain barrels.  Sponges were precut into various marine animals for the students to use as stensils and then go back and add more details.   Some of the sea creatures ended up with a little bit more paint than they needed to but the kids seemed to have a lot of fun.  I gave them a tour of Grice Marine Lab and a touch tank session in the wet lab.  We had quite a few future marine biologists!

Students from Harbor View Elementary School painting the rain barrels at Grice Marine Lab.


Finished rain barrels!


Green Teaching Garden Mural Contest Winner: Troy Ganz

The winning mural contest entry was created by a senior marine biology major, Troy Ganz.  Troy will receive the prize money of $250 after the completion of the mural on the main cistern in the GTG.   Keep a look out for pictures of the progress of the mural painting!

Priming and base coat for cistern mural winner March 23, 2012

Callie Crawford and other marine biology graduate students finished painting the main cistern while I was away at a conference this weekend.  Looks great guys, thanks so much!  Now the cistern is ready for the winner to begin painting the mural.

Future work days: April 1st

Unveiling of finished Green Teaching Garden: April 7th at Grice Marine Lab and the Marine Biology Graduate Association 2nd Annual Marine-ival!

Post from Sammi Smoot

Removing the plastic liner from the bog garden: February 25, 2012

We had a short but very productive work day removing the plastic tarp from under the garden.

Marine biology graduate students: Leslie Wicks, Bec Mortensen, Tim O’Donnell, Nicole Kollars, Ashley Shaw, Carly Altizer, Sarah Doty, Meredith Smylie, and Jaqueline Leidig removing the plastic liner from the bog garden.

Rain Barrel Installation with Dave Joyner from Clemson Extension: February 28th 2012

Students from Dr. Brian Fisher’s sustainability class, came to help install the rain barrels.  Dave Joyner from Clemson Extension and Jeffrey Swatkowski, a graduate student in the Master’s of Environmental Studies (MES) program, helped to design the rain collection system made up of a 1500 gallon cistern that and 8 50-gallon rain barrels.   Between both systems, estimated capture is 41,000 gallons of water per year (based on 50% capture).   There’s a whole lot of water that comes off of GML!  There are four rain barrels attached to each porch that are daisy chained together.  For more information on how to build your own rain barrel and install it in your home visit the website:



Dave Joyner teaching a undergraduate student about making a rain barrel collection system.

Rain Garden Workshop led by Kim Counts from Clemson Carolina Clear: March 16th 2012

People from throughout the College of Charleston campus attended a free garden planning, design, and planting in coastal South Carolina.  Representatives from CofC’s Masters of Environmental Studies, SC Department of Natural Resources, CofC Grounds, Grice Marine Lab, and unaffiliated members of the public attended the event.  The workshop was led by Kim Counts from Clemson Carolina Clear and sponsored by: Grice Marine Lab, CofC Marine Biology Graduate Student Association, CofC Office of Sustainability, Carolina Clear, Clemson Cooperative Extension, and the Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium.

ABC News4, a local Charleston news station was also there for photographs and interviews that were featured on the Friday night news.  Links to the articles from the College of Charleston’s and ABCNews4 websites are below.

Kim Counts showing rain garden workshop attendees where to place each of the plants.

(Top) Attendees filling in the rain garden with a layer of mushroom compost and cedar mulch.  The garden site already has a lot of sand but you want to make sure the rain garden is composed of 60% sand to help with percolation.

(Bottom) MES student Jennifer Saunders watering our finished rain garden! J

CofC News:

ABC News 4 story:

Post from Sammi Smoot

The Green Teaching Garden is sponsored by the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Lab (GML), CofC’s Marine Biology Graduate Student Association (MBGSA), and the CofC Office of Sustainability ECOllective Fund.

 Herb garden: January 31st, 2012

Our herbs we planted last spring are still doing really well! We cut back all the herbs we still had growing: lavender, rosemary, terregon, and oregano and put them into bunches to dry around the lab.

Herbs hanging in the Grice Marine Lab dorm kitchen pantry


Rain barrel painting and platform building: February 10th 2012

We started applying the primer and base coat for our rain barrels.  I chose natural colors-green, yellow, tan, and brown to go with the sustainability theme. Four of the rain barrels were donated from Clemson Extension and the other four were purchased from EarthFare.  Before we could install the rain barrels, we had to create a flat raised surface for them to sit on.  Even though the garden site is fairly sandy and flat, we dug down to remove roots and then added paver sand to help raise and level the pavers.

(Left) Marine biology graduate student Katie Anweiler places a paver leveling the ground. (Right) Marine biology students — paint the rain barrels.

Transplanting Workday: Start of turnover from a bog garden to a rain garden: February 17, 2012

When the garden was created last year, a bog garden was installed in the center of the four raised beds.  Unfortunately, our garden isn’t the best site to have one and would be much more sustainable to create a rain garden instead.

What’s the difference between a rain garden and a bog garden?  A bog garden is created to retain water.  A plastic liner is placed about a foot underneath the garden to keep the water in and plants that do well in high moisture environments are selected.  It is also best to have a water source such as an ice machine like the Fort Johnson Community Garden has in place.  A rain garden on the other hand is a depression in the ground made of mostly sand and allows for rain water to soak into the soil with the goal to improve water quality in near bodies of water.  Plants in this habitat should be able to handle about a day of water coverage before it soaks through the soil and periods of drought. Native plants in the South Carolina coastal area do well in rain gardens.

Today was the first step in changing over from the bog garden to a rain garden.  The surviving plants were removed and placed into pots donated from Hyam’s on James Island.  The College of Charleston’s Biology Club also donated several packages of flowers to be planted in front the garden.

(Left) Marine biology graduate students: Hannah Day, Michelle Reed, Robin Garcia, and Meredith Smylie work on transplanting the plants from the bog garden. (Right) Biology Club president Haley Ottinger planted the flowers in front of the Grice Marine Lab sign.