New Mooney Shade Garden offers peaceful space in Historic Neighborhood

The garden located outside Mooney Building features a quiet path under oak trees, lined with shade-loving plants and a sculpture by artist Jim Gallucci.

A new campus feature will provide Elon students, faculty and staff with a quiet place to relax, think or meditate near the heart of campus.

Elon Physical Plant recently completed the Mooney Shade Garden outside Mooney Building in the Historic Neighborhood. The new garden features a winding path under oak trees, as well as plants that thrive in the shade. The plants have been purposely spaced to allow room to add new, unique plants in the coming years as the garden continues to provide a peaceful space at Elon. 

“The garden will serve as a place for students and community members to get away from the hustle and bustle of main campus,” said Scott Stevens, director of landscaping and grounds.

The Jim Gallucci oak leaf gate sculpture in the Mooney Shade Garden.

Also on display in the garden is a sculpture by well-known metal sculptor Jim Gallucci. Elon purchased the oak leaf gate sculpture from Gallucci about decade ago, and it sat outside Whitley Auditorium until the construction of Steers Pavilion in 2016. Now the gate has a new home in the Mooney Shade Garden.

“This gateway sculpture, with its oak leaves and acorns, is a metaphor for Elon being a gateway to the future,” said Tom Flood, assistant vice president of physical plant. “As this new garden is adjacent to the School of Education, I love the symbolism of education in a broader sense being the gateway as well.”

Flood first had the idea to create the garden several years ago, and horticulturalist Cindy Sykes completed the plan and layout to help the project become reality. With the completion of LaRose Student Commons in September, Flood decided this was the perfect time to carry out the shade garden project.

The garden project was funded by monetary gifts to the Elon Botanical Garden as well as university improvement funds.

The Mooney Shade Garden becomes the newest addition to the University Botanical Gardens. Elon’s campus was designated a botanical garden in 2004, signifying the campus’ role as a model for stewardship of the environment and the conservation of plants.