by Paul Walters
The beautiful, revitalized parkland that Forest Hills gained as a result of the Broad Branch Creek daylighting completed in 2015 recently received an additional boost.
New picnic tables were purchased and installed as part of a District Department of Energy and Environment grant awarded to Katrina Weinig.
These tables are located along the pathway, and provide a pleasant place to stop, watch the birds, and enjoy the plantings that were also installed as part of Katrina’s DOEE grant, following Darlene Robbins’ landscape design.
Along with the tables, a walk in the Broad Branch woodlands will lead you to a rustic “council circle” built by local Eagle Scouts.
The council circle is a ring of tree stumps set among the trees along the waterside – a perfect place to sit with a group of friends and enjoy the peaceful setting.
UPDATE: Darlene Robbins sent us this note after we published the piece.
[Council circles] have their roots in Native American culture, providing everyone in the circle with equal seating and the opportunity to engage in discussion. [The Danish landscape architect Jens] Jensen tapped into the form and the egalitarian notion, incorporating beautiful stone council rings into many of his naturalistic designs in the mid-western prairielands of Illinois and Wisconsin in the early 1900s. Darrel Morrison, a contemporary landscape designer whom I’ve met, has continued the practice, most notably at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
As a big admirer of both Jensen and Morrison, in their homage I included a rustic (and very humble) council ring as part of my design for the Broad Branch Park. I thought a ring at the far end of the park, where the stream takes a sharp turn along the dramatically steep hillside, would be a nice way to invite school groups (or any visitor) to sit and enjoy the surroundings. We planted 3 Pawpaw trees there for added interest. The circle is designed as a walk-through, meaning it allows trail passage through the center.
We were lucky that a local scout, Pablo Laguarda, took on the task as his Eagle Scout project…. He and his troop did a really nice job building it and putting their own style to it. They also added a log seating area upstream along the creek. I think they may plan to install a small sign of some sort nearby the ring, as I noticed a post there the other day when I stopped by.