Eagle Scout’s Project Nets Bayonne New Four Season Sensory Garden

Completed garden. Photo Credit: Bayonne Buzz

Bayonne has recently become home to a new four-season garden at G. Thomas DiDomenico 16th Street Park, thanks to the efforts of Madison Dittrich, a member of the local Scout Troop 327, and her Eagle Scout project. The garden, strategically situated next to the all-abilities playground, provides a sensory experience for residents and visitors alike, with its thoughtfully arranged plants appealing to each of the five senses: taste, smell, sound, sight, and touch.

Dittrich led the community garden project as part of the journey to earn the prestigious honor of Eagle Scout, a recognition achieved by only 6% of Scouts. She led the entire process, from collaborating with community leaders, including Public Works Director Tommy Cotter, Councilman Gary La Pelusa, and Mayor Jimmy Davis, to carefully planning the plant design and organizing volunteers for the garden’s installation. Her efforts were ultimately rewarded on December 5th, as she was bestowed with the esteemed title of Eagle Scout, in part due to leading the garden project.

Working the soil and planting the garden. Photo Credit: Madison Dittrich

The sensory garden is a carefully planned space where each section caters to a specific sense, fostering a harmonious blend of experiences. Beginning with taste, the garden features tomato plants and an assortment of herbs, leading seamlessly into scents, represented by roses, lavender, lilac, and other fragrant varieties. To engage the sense of sound, Dittrich selected plants that attract butterflies, creating a delightful fluttering ambiance with species like butterfly weed, rhododendron, and phlox. Vibrant colors take center stage for sight, featuring eye-catching plants such as Iris, daylilies, daisies, and hydrangea. Finally, for touch, the garden incorporates highly texturized and durable plants, including stonecrop, hostas, and hens-and-chicks succulents.

Importantly, the design is mindful of seasonal changes, incorporating evergreens and herbaceous plants that die to the ground each year but reemerge in the spring. This thoughtful combination ensures that the garden remains visually appealing and engaging throughout the year, regardless of the season.

While the garden was planted in June, its official unveiling took place in mid-November, leaving many residents unaware of the inspiring story behind its creation.

The beneficiaries of this community-driven project are the city of Bayonne and The Bayonne Youth Center. The Youth Center, in addition to managing the garden’s care, will it its programs, offering learning experiences to the youth involved. Additionally, the Bayonne Youth Center helped sponsor the project, covering the cost of plants and providing the necessary supplies to make the four-season garden a reality.

Adjacent to the garden, the all-abilities playground at G. Thomas DiDomenico 16th Street Park was rededicated in August of the previous year in memory of Al Slootsky, a revered community activist. Slootsky’s legacy includes championing recreational opportunities for individuals with special needs, such as establishing basketball teams for those in wheelchairs and initiating the Ability Day Camp. Although a playground in Bergen Point Park was previously named after him, it was unfortunately razed during the Bayonne Bridge expansion.

Al Slootsky dedication plaque. Photo Credit: Bayonne Buzz

Dittrich’s Eagle Scout project has not only beautified the community but will beckon residents to of all ages to get in touch with all their senses for years to come.