Literary Garden Set to Bloom at West Bloomfield


West Bloomfield High School (WBHS) Honors American Literature and Points of View teacher Jennifer McQuillan has began to construct WBHS’s very own Literary Garden, the first of its kind anywhere in the nation. A literary garden is a garden with literary ties to a novel or author. For example, a Shakespearean themed garden would feature plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s poetry and theater.This literary garden will feature plants related to the novels and authors studied in American Literature.  Mrs. McQuillan wants this garden to be an interactive and educational experience for the WBHS community, and also something that will embellish the somewhat blasé courtyard.   


McQuillan’s amazing idea stemmed from her goal to find a project that would connect students to the classes she teaches.  “One of the things that I try to do is I try to find things that I like to do and tie them to the literature because then I think I’m more excited, and I think when I’m more excited kids get more excited”. The Literary Garden is a perfect fit for this idea because it encourages students to interact with literature outside the classroom.


This Garden has many benefits for all students, not just those studying literature. Art students can look to the garden for inspiration.  Science classes can use the garden as a vessel for experimentation. The opportunities and ideas that the literary garden encourages and promotes are endless. Mrs. McQuillan hopes that the literary garden will impact all students and allow them to connect school subjects to the real world.


So far she has a list of twenty-one authors to be featured in the garden, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Emily Dickinson,  Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Walt Whitman. They also have plants from The Old Manse, a house where both classic American poets Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson lived.


Various donors and businesses have taken part in the garden’s completion. According to McQuillan, “Our literary sponsor is the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. We also have had grants from the West Bloomfield Educational Foundation,  and an industry grant from a company that one of my former students works for”. She also says that the garden definitely could not have been started without the many volunteers and generous donations from the West Bloomfield community.


She hopes for the garden to have a profound affect on the students, the school, and also the surrounding community. Eventually, when the garden is finished, poem readings, plays, and even a prom for senior citizens are hoped to be held in the garden.  

When asked about the garden’s completion McQuillan said, “My best guess is that by June, I would think, everything should be in and planted, and hopefully, fingers crossed, thriving.”

Pictures found here, at Mrs. McQuillan’s website: