Horticulture Diaries: Haney Hillside Garden

Gardening, Horticulture, Outdoors

Somewhere early along my path here, I became the caretaker of the Haney Hillside. The list of those who wanted to tackle the erosion issues that this hill presented was short—but I didn’t fear those issues if it got me on the hillside! On my very first walk-through, I had fallen in the love with the twists and turns of the path as it winded its way to the Shoreland Trail.

My first few years brought a hillside makeover consisting of thousands of plugs and various trees. I remember wondering how long it would be before the beds filled in. Little did I know that, seemingly overnight, the hillside would be thriving and lush. Plants that had once been tiny and widely spaced now grew in abundance along the trail. 

Ledges broke through from the moss-covered earth around them and crept through fern and bush.  Pines reached towards the sky and presented the perfect background for the flowering perennials beneath them. Human work met nature’s, and the two blended ever so beautifully.

People would wander along the trail, each curve inviting them to see what was around the next bend.  The stone benches welcomed them to sit and take in the quiet of the woods. The trickle of the waterfall had them lingering long as birds flittered about and bathed in the pool.

I would watch guests as they walked along the twisting path and could see the wonderment on their faces as they realized how beautifully nature melded with these deliberate plantings. Many conversations grew as people recognized trees and native perennials and realized that they, too, had some of the very plants that grew in this great garden.

There were a few who preferred the confines of the main campus, but more often than not, people who wandered this far were drawn back time and again. It became a destination spot. For how could one not long for the beauty of wilderness and garden, intertwined? And who could not wonder at what lies around the bend, even if one had walked that bend before? For nothing in the garden is finite; the beauty is ever-changing.