The rockery project began in January 1985, led by Alice Simonds and Betty Wood. The site chosen for the rockery was a neglected area on the north end of a large barn at Beaver Brook. Once the site was chosen, the gardeners used the horticultural library to study rock garden plants and seeds. Plantings were begun in a greenhouse; by spring, large rocks and then seedlings were placed, thus creating Alice’s Rockery.
In early 1999, the Maple Hill Gardeners decided to restructure the rockery. Changes began in the spring with the removal of a dead tree. As a result of this change, the rockery was altered from a shady garden to a sunny one. In addition, the volunteers rearranged old rocks in the garden and brought in new rocks for placement.
Plants in Alice’s Rockery that bloom in the spring and summer are: Leopard’s Bane, Primrose, Hosta, Dwarf Iris, Bleeding Heart, Great Solomon’s Seal, and two native species of woodland Phlox. Cotoneaster drapes over the wall. Autumn Crocus and White Wood Aster bloom at the time of Fall Festival. There are several species of native ferns: Maidenhair, near the steps; Ostrich around the deck, Oak-fern along the edge of the wall, Evergreen Wood Fern, Fragile Fern in the rock wall, plus Lady Fern and Hay Scented Fern. Vinca serves as a ground cover, and Viburnums occupy the east side.
In May, 2004, the Maple Hill Gardeners worked in Alice’s gardens (at her own home) one Monday morning. The gardens in her own backyard were so beautiful! Later that same day, the gardeners stayed for lunch and ate cake, celebrating Alice’s 100th birthday with her at her home in Hollis. Alice was a lovely person.
At the grand age of 104, Alice passed away on May 21, 2008. She will surely be missed! The Maple Hill Gardeners will continue to take great care of Alice’s Rockery. May we all live to enjoy gardening and life as long as Alice Simonds did.