State of the Arboretum—Making a Splash

Removal of the old water garden

This past summer was quite horticulturally eventful at Secrest.  Two major garden projects absorbed a large propoA person and person standing next to a pondDescription automatically generatedrtion of our time and resources.  First, the arboretum's much-loved pond, known as Skip and Letty’s Water Garden, received a full makeover during the last part of June.  Over the last few years, it had become evident that the garden, initially constructed in 1999, had reached the end of its useful life.  The liner, pump and other components had aged beyond repair, leading to a noticeable impact on the pond's appearance and function.  It had become a disconcerting, discolored lagoon.  Our goldfish, frogs, and other critters—as well as our visitors—deserved better. 

Rather serendipitously, I was contacted in May by Logan Brown, a water garden expert and owner of Oasis Landscaping in Mt. Vernon.  Logan tactfully explained that he had visited Secrest many times over the years and was concerned about the pond's deteriorating condition.  He offered to provide a plan to upgrade to the latest pond technology, resulting in a beautiful and functional Aquascape ecosystem pond.  

Thanks to a second generous gift by Dr. and Mrs. Nault, Logan’s team replaced the failing liner and filter, sculpted the pond’s lithic layout and waterfall, and added some snazzy automated features to reduce staff maintenance time.  Skip has since introduced several new koi that are coexisting peacefully with our gang of goldfish and army of amphibians.  There is even talk of a future turtle-in-residence program. They, along with our visitors, will appreciate the remarkably clean water and diverse collection of aquatic plant varieties. 

I hereby risk becoming the proverbial buzzkill, but a few other words are in order.  Our beautiful new pond has seemingly created new opportunities for trespassing and minor acts of vandalism.  We have so far extracted submerged plant labels, removed corn and other inappropriate “fish food,” and broken up a weekend pool party.  The pond is a carefully balanced and functioning ecosystem, so it is very important that we keep extraneous objects (including people) out of the water.  It is imperative to ensure the health of the aquatic flora and fauna, not to mention promote respect for our visitors and staff.  If you witness funny business, horseplay, or pernicious acts of any kind, please feel free to alert me at (330) 202-3582 or as soon as possible.  Let’s work together to protect A garden with flowers and trees

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A long overdue effort to revamp a portion of Gayle’s Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden commenced on the heels of the pond project. The design and planting were the culmination of months of collaboration with the family of the late Beth Taylor, longtime Secrest devotee and volunteer.  As a fitting tribute to Beth and her fondness for hummingbirds, we conceived a colorful, nectar-rich garden appealing specifically to our ruby-throated friends.  Complete with three honeysuckle-laden rebar tree sculptures crafted by Beth’s brother, the new bed is awash in warm shades of red, orange, and yellow flowers that hummingbirds find irresistible.  In Beth’s memory, we hope that it is a stimulating place for visitors to enjoy the fascinating habits of hummingbirds and learn about the many plants that provide them sustenance.


--Jason Veil, Curator