Garden of the Month: August 2012

Hidden Springs Wellness Center:
In the dog days of August, the cool, green garden at Hidden Springs Wellness Center can be a blessed relief from the acres of asphalt at Ashland Shopping Center.
Accessed through a sweet gate at the top corner of the shopping center parking lot, the one-acre Hidden Springs garden offers a large pond with blooming water lilies and visits by waterfowl, including a blue heron, plus at least one giant koi (the heron tends to eat the koi).  The pond is fed by springs and a pump powers a recirculating stream meandering up to the Wellness Center designed by Jim Bowne.  Ian Wessler of Wessler Design Associates did some of the initial landscape and pond design.  Cottonwood trees complete the pond’s rural feel.
Rod and Brooks Newton bought what is now the thriving Hidden Springs Wellness Center in 1999.  It had been a private home, but thanks to the adjacent shopping center, part of the lot was zoned commercial.  Now the center is home to 14 wellness practitioners, including therapists, coaches, massage therapists, naturopathic doctors, and a fitness center.  It also hosts classes and workshops.  You would never know that the Tidings building and the shopping center are right outside, so well have the plantings grown, including Japanese maples, Mugo pines, a Kwanzan cherry tree, and beeches.
When the Newtons took possession, the pond was there, full of cat-tails and blackberries.  With the help of friends, they pulled out the blackberries by hand; no chemicals have ever been used in the garden.  Then they hauled in huge rocks from their Ashland home to dot the property.  Original fruit trees and ponderosa pine continue to thrive.  The garden is made even more inviting by small picnic tables, a swinging tree chair, and a bench by the pond.  The garden is open to the public; the gate is never locked.  The Newtons simply ask visitors not to interfere with Wellness Center activities.  Workers from the shopping center who’ve discovered the gate enjoy their lunch breaks there.
For the past ten years, Paul Garber has taken care of the garden.  Many people have also contributed in trade for classes, workshops, and wellness services, including construction of a little Japanese bridge over the stream as you first enter the garden.  Elizabeth York of Ashland has donated much of the plant material.
As the Wellness Center has been enlarged and remodeled, the gardens surrounding it continue to be upgraded.  A raised bed for herbs is currently under construction by the new fitness center.
Julia Sommer