"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hovander Park's Fragrance Garden

Yesterday was a gorgeous bright sunny day - unseasonably warm, in fact. But I loved it. For the first time in a long time I actually feel well enough to take medium-to-long walks. I've been hurt so much of the last several months - my back injury and before that my knee injury - that I've really been feeling the lack of exercise. So I left the kids with Homero and took off for a solo-sojourn to Hovander Park

Hovander Park is kind of an institution around here. It's one of the very best places to bring young kids for nature walks or to visit farm animals and see what an old fashioned, large scale homestead looked like c. 1885.

Originally, Hovander was a 60 acre homestead settles by a prosperous Scandinavian family. Mr. Hovander built an amazing three story house and an enormous barn, both of which are in excellent repair and available for visiting. The barn is packed with original farm equipment, which is awesome, especially for little boys. The house is surrounded with gardens. Hovander is the site of the Master Gardener's program gardens, and they are quite a sight. There is a kitchen vegetable garden, a giant herb garden, the original orchard, pumpkin patch, corn maze, and a beautiful dahlia garden full of dozens of colorful varieties. There is even a noxious weed garden, planted so that landowners can recognize and hopefully eradicate invasive plants.

There is another section of the park a quarter mile away or so, which I like even better. Another house of the same era (history unknown to me) houses a visitor's center which has never been open on any of the three dozen occasions I have visited. However, that doesn't matter. This house is also surrounded by an amazing garden - a fragrance garden.

Fragrance gardens are gardens specially designed for the blind. Rather than focusing on showy flowers and stunning colors, they focus on beautiful scents and interesting textures. This garden has hedges of rosemary, of thyme and sage, dozens of varieties of mint, rosebushes, mock orange, lemon verbena, and all sorts of wonderful smelling plants. It is, of course, also a beautiful garden. I love to walk there and rub all the plants until I smell like a walking herb patch.
Behind the house is a wooden lookout tower, about seven stories high. There's a plaque somewhere that says what its original purpose was, but I can't remember now. Today it's purpose is to provide a small workout followed by spectacular views of the mountain over Tenant Lake.

It's a slight exaggeration to call that body of water a lake - it's more of a large swamp/marsh. I don't think the water gets more than a couple of feet deep anywhere, but it is pretty large - large enough to provide habitat to many many frogs, fish, turtles, beavers, and water birds. There is a mile-long circular boardwalk out over the water. It's a terrific place to bring the kids for a nature walk. There are always dragonflies and tiny minnows swarming in the shallow water. During the migration season, there are hordes of geese and swans. Some of the trail is open but most of it is hemmed in by trees and tall bushes, so it feels very secluded.

The walk felt good. The climb to the top of the tower felt not-so-good, but my panting and wheezing served to harden my resolve to get moving more often and regain a little bit of condition. Taking pictures felt good. Just being all alone with nothing in particular to think about felt good.
Snow White and Rose Red - snowberries and rosehips on the trail at Hovander Park


Garden Lily said...

Thanks for bringing us along with you! The boardwalk sounds wonderful, as does the fragrance garden.

linda said...

That sounds so wonderful! Thanks for sharing it! Love the idea of the fragrance garden!

Penelope said...

there are river otters too. I love it there!