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Seeds of cheer

This groundskeeper delights in covering Maris Grove in color year-round

Created date

April 18th, 2018
Grounds Supervisor Randy Waddell leads a group of residents on a spring plant walk at Maris Grove on Earth Day. (From left) Randy Waddell, Jo Roedel, Ruth Christie, Barbara Morrison, Ann Fleury, and Nancy Drew.

Grounds Supervisor Randy Waddell leads a group of residents on a spring plant walk at Maris Grove on Earth Day. (From left) Randy Waddell, Jo Roedel, Ruth Christie, Barbara Morrison, Ann Fleury, and Nancy Drew.

May is a beautiful time to visit Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa.

Spring cleanup is complete and eight tractor-trailer loads of mulch have been applied. The 87-acre campus is abloom with spring bulbs; red, pink, and white dogwoods; and fragrant rhododendrons.

Grounds Supervisor Randy Waddell and crew work throughout the year to maintain Maris Grove as a natural, wooded environment enhanced by cultivated floral beauty. Planting continues till December.

“The changing landscape is what keeps things interesting for me,” Waddell says. Besides putting the right plant in the right location, he must consider the overall effect of what he introduces into the landscape.

Colorful choices

Community members consider Waddell a walking plant encyclopedia. He enjoys gaining new knowledge and delights in sharing what he knows. During spring and fall campus plant walks, he gives residents a detailed look at 20 different growing things.

When he adds new plants, he selects for season-spanning color, resiliency, efficiency, and cost.

He’s hit the jackpot with this example. For seven years now, the grounds crew has pulled up spent daffodil bulbs, tossed them into holes across the campus, and forgotten about them.

One of those places is the hillside across from Brinton Clubhouse; it’s now awash with daffodils. The same result is on display within the woodland glades that make Maris Grove such a peaceful haven.

Front gate plantings illustrate Waddell’s efficiency in action. When fall frost is imminent, the crew pulls out summer annuals, digs eight-inch-deep holes, and adds three plants atop one another. A late-spring bulb goes in first, then a mid-season bulb, then a pansy. The pansy blooms in fall and in early spring before making way for the bulbs.

Always improving

Redwood Commons, Maris Grove’s newest neighborhood, opened last summer, and its third residence building is nearing completion. Waddell is excited to be working with the landscape architect on recommendations of what to plant where.

He’s pleased to give input because some plantings from Maris Grove’s early days have proved to be poor choices. “Last spring we pulled out more than 200 original shrubs and replaced them with slow-growing boxwood hybrids,” says Waddell.

Not only were the originals planted in beds that were much too small, but deer deemed them a favorite food.

The grounds crew recently completed a landscape project that fired Waddell’s imagination and makes him proud. The aptly named Tranquility Garden, located near Brinton Clubhouse, sits nestled into the hillside of an undisturbed wooded area.

Wrapped by a retaining wall, the garden’s bluestone patio features a central boulder that’s a fire pit.

To keep the focus on the woods, Waddell planted native trees, shrubs, flowers, and ground covers and put in perennials rather than showy annuals.

He thinks everyone benefits from a quiet place outdoors to sit and recharge.

“I hope this will be a place to get away,” says Waddell, “to read a book, relax, and look into the natural beauty of the woods.”

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