The Harder Watercourse Garden- A Gardener’s Canvas of the Seasons

The Harder Watercourse Garden is a relatively new addition to the beautiful arboretum at Cornell Plantations.  I found it recently and find it a photographer’s dream of textures and changing colors as the season progresses. First, let me show you where to find this place. It lies just south of the Neuman Overlook at the first parking area just past the overlook.

The view when you park is inviting……

….  but, continue on down the slope where you begin to find the seasonal beauty.  There are two small vernal ponds on the slope to collect storm water run-off.  The upper pond  is retaining some water, even in our current drought.  There, I found a Twelve-spot Dragonfly alternately patrolling and perching over its territory.

Nearby is a planting of varigated grass surrounded by insect friendly yellow blooms.  It displays a nice contrast in colors and textures.

At the second pond is a beautiful spot with a memorial bench placed by the family of Jane Torrence Harder.

Imagine resting on the bench, surrounded by cone flowers and hibiscus.  The view over the arboretum is engaging.

I found the garden as the hibiscus were erupting in new blooms each day.  Again, the garden is rich in contrasting plants.

Nice.  On the other side is a curious plant, Button Bush.  I imagine the birds being attracted to the fruits when they ripen.

My walk also discovered red twigged Dogwoods that will add color when the winter snows blanket the ground.

On my last visit at sunrise, I found dew-laden grasses alive with the newly rising sun’s sharp light.  The grass shone with thousands of diamonds in another display of the garden designer’s eye for textures.

On the same morning, I saw the garden’s ability to attract wildlife.  In this case, Song Sparrows probed in the cover for seed and insects while Goldfinches searched up  higher for seeds.

The animal life was not limited to Dragonflies and birds as the blooms were alive with bees of all sorts.

Nearby, I again saw the play of textures where a bald cypress displays its soft lacy leaves and summer yellows of field flowers.

At this time, one of the most enduring images are the brilliant yellows, which I think are my most lasting memory.

The multitude of bees call me to return soon to concentrate on them.  There is  much here for the nature lover and the nature-loving photographer.  I hope you can join me in exploring this canvas of the seasons.

Paul Schmitt

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