Greenwich Library Announces New West Putnam Avenue Rain Garden

Greenwich Library’s alcove park on Putnam Avenue—once the home of the Library’s famed pin oak tree—was recently reopened as the “Rain Garden” after a 12-month design and landscaping project. In addition to an S-shaped fieldstone wall and a basin of river stones, the new rain garden features a sourwood tree, two dogwood trees, and dwarf mondo and Peter’s Pick hardy monkey grasses.

“We’re happy we can welcome spring with this beautiful new outdoor space,” says Library Director Joe Williams. “The landscaping team from William Kenny Associates created a wonderful Rain Garden that can be enjoyed with gorgeous views from both within the Library and without.”

The Library's Rain Garden with a stone wall, dogwood trees, and grasses along the glass wall

This new Rain Garden replaces the space once occupied by a venerable, nearly century-old pin oak that was toppled by a heavy storm in 2019. The Library’s circular glass outer wall, which had been specifically constructed in the late 1990s around the oak to showcase its significance, was unharmed in the storm. “The feeling here is that we’ve lost a member of the family, that it was a very special beloved tree, a magnificent tree,” said former Library Director Barbara Ormerod-Glynn at the time. “I think we all thought it would last forever.”

The Rain Garden project was a community effort. It was led by the Library’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, chaired by trustees Hank Ashforth and Jill Cobbs. The Greenwich Garden Club, which made a generous contribution to the project, also provided considerable input. Trees were supported through the philanthropy of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy.

JoAnn Messina, the Executive Director of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy stated, “The Greenwich Tree Conservancy is so very pleased to support the living legacy of trees at the Library, and thanks the Greenwich Association of Realtors for their commitment to this project.”

A committee comprised of Library staff, Buildings and Grounds Committee members, and members of the Greenwich Garden Club worked on the design with landscape architect William Kenny, of the eponymous firm. Kenny provided a design that was not only beautiful, but functional, since the committee was also concerned with preventing flooding through the window wall adjacent to the new garden. As a result, the design features not only new plantings, but a catch basin that is tastefully concealed in river stone.

Jane Dunn of the Greenwich Garden Club commented, “The Rain Garden’s beauty comes from the function it serves.”

The Greenwich Library system consists of the Main Library on West Putnam Avenue, the Byram Shubert Library branch, and the Cos Cob Library branch. Each building offers ample space to gather, read, work, learn, and grow. Whether you come to the Theater for a film screening, try a 3D printer in the Innovation Lab, or cozy up in an armchair among the stacks, you’ll find yourself at home here. Learn more about recent renovations to the Main Library here:

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Questions? Contact:
Greenwich Library
(203) 622-7900