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At home in a tranquil garden

Maris Grove blooms from early March through mid-November

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November 14th, 2014
Maris Grove Grounds Supervisor Randy Waddell shows off a lush but contained planting of variegated liriope, a hardy quick-growing groundcover.
Maris Grove Grounds Supervisor Randy Waddell shows

People who reside at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., feel fortunate to live in its beautiful landscape of wooded glens and colorful plantings.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society recognizes those qualities, too. It gave Maris Grove a Community Greening Award for outstanding public plantings and an equally impressive award for superb maintenance of its plantings.
Last year, the community’s resident gardens, comprised of 98 spaces in two locations, earned a Community Greening Award.
Randy Waddell, Maris Grove’s grounds supervisor, was particularly pleased with the 2013 award.
“The judges were impressed by one of the things that impressed me most when I initially toured the community,” he says. “The gardens are a pleasing collage of color in late summer. They’re a pleasant place to be.”
Seeded interest
Frequent childhood trips to Longwood Gardens seeded Waddell’s interest in ornamental plants, which grew to a fascination by the 1980s.
He credits ten years of courses at Longwood Gardens for providing most of his formal horticultural education. He also owned a plant nursery.
Maris Grove residents hold Waddell in high esteem, calling him a walking plant encyclopedia. When he can’t immediately solve their plant problems, he’ll do research until he can.
He attends the garden club’s semiannual meetings to discuss residents’ needs at the beginning and end of the growing season.
He leads campus plant walks in spring and fall, noting new varieties and interesting specimens.
And he meets monthly with Maris Grove’s resident landscape committee. Its members alert him to concerns he might have missed, and Waddell updates them on what he’s doing.
Blooming with beauty
Waddell selects what flowers, shrubs, and replacement trees to plant each year. With just two staff members to maintain Maris Grove’s 83 acres, he balances practical considerations like low maintenance with aesthetic qualities like season-spanning color.
He always finds space for hydrangeas, whose pastel summer blossoms and striking autumn foliage provide season-spanning color on their own.
The campus blooms from early March through mid-November.
Vibrant, sun-loving annuals will always flower at Maris Grove, but Waddell has begun planting more perennials.
Tending the plantings on Maris Grove’s 83 acres spans a nine-month timeframe. By now, crewmembers have removed daffodil bulbs from the entrance to Maris Grove and transplanted them in more naturalized settings where they’ll add cheerful bursts of yellow.
They’ve planted next spring’s bulbs and will soon dig up the chrysanthemums.
They also prune trees, repair irrigation equipment and landscape lighting, manage snow and ice, and even pick up litter.
But plants, well, plants are special.
Waddell’s goal is for residents, guests, and staff to feel as if they’re in a tranquil garden setting. “I want them to feel soothed by the surrounding plants, flowers, and green grass,” he says. “Life is all busy hustle-bustle. Sometimes, you need to slow down.”

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