Photo of Visitation Relief Center Garden
Gardener, Matthew Crane, installed native edible perennials and pollinator favorites in the new education garden at the Visitation Relief Center in Brick.

Project Goal

To establish a healthy native landscape for staff and visitors to use as both a recreational space and an educational forum.

Site Assessment

Visitation Relief Center is a nonprofit community outreach center that was formed by members of the community in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The land in the backyard is cultivated as a vegetable garden to provide food for the community. The front landscape next to the parking lot is the target area of this project. It consists of a layer of wood chip mulch laid over gravel, which is laid over compacted soil. The soil assessment revealed roots visible at a depth of 6 inches. Old irrigation lines exist below ground. Existing vegetation consisting of large trees and remnant shrubs appears healthy. The land is at a slight slope causing some erosion and runoff. The 6.65 pH is slightly acidic to neutral. The landscape receives full to partial sun throughout the day.


The Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database was used to select shrubs and perennials that grow well in sandy, slightly acidic soil in full or partial sun. Shrubs were planted along the back fence as a privacy border and to provide a green vegetative backdrop to the landscape. Grasses and hardy perennials able to withstand snowpack and deicing salt were planted along the curb near the parking lot. A path was created through the landscape and a small perennial garden was installed to provide seasonal color. Picnic tables were placed within the garden area for staff and visitors to use.

Plants Used

Shrubs: Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) Northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) Beach Plum (Prunus maritima) Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium coryumbosum) Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Grasses:  Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

Perennials:  Blue Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Purple Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), Lanceleaf Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpureum), Purple Joe-Pye (Eupatorium purpureum), False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), Blazing Star (Liatrsi spicata), Sundial Lupine (Lupinus perennis), Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum muticum), Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida), Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), and New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae- angliae)

Project Leaders

Becky Laboy and Eileen Miller: Ocean County Soil Conservation District
Mike Gerrity: Rutgers Environmental Steward
Mathew Crane: Visitation Relief Center