Eden Hyll Sanctuary
I purchased this land in 2007 thanks to some money left to me by my mother. I’d always dreamed of owning a cabin in the woods, on a body of water, off the grid. My solar-powered cabin shares an eight acre pond, called White Pine Pond, with nine other cabins.
My land is basically a granite hill (shield) with another parcel of low-lying land that is swampy and as yet unexplored by me. There are White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, a couple of full-grown Cedars and a multitude of young Oak as well as Maple, Cherry, Yellow Birch, Elder and Ash.
I have approximately 500 feet of pond shoreline where Blue Flag Iris, Marsh St. Johnswort, and beautiful butterfly- enticing Swamp Milkweed grow. There’s a resident family of minks along the shore as well as visiting bear, deer, turkeys and grouse. The pond has the usual Pumpkin Seed Sunfish, Perch and now Large-Mouth Bass - for the fisher persons on the pond.
Barred owls call in the night and a Great Blue Heron visits every day. My pair of Phoebes delights me each year with a new location for their nest and I saw my very first Hummingbird nest in 2010, dangling in a notch in a branch of a baby maple, swinging precariously over the water’s edge on my shore. I chuckle at the Raven’s raucous call in the early mornings.
Knowing I was close to one of the largest army bases in the United States, Fort Drum, I didn’t fully realize how that would impact me until I moved in. As I sat on my porch enjoying the view over the pond, I was startled to hear fighter jets roar overhead. There are battles played out in the woods to the north a few miles. I sat there wondering why I had picked this specific place. It felt so incongruous to be able to sit in such peace when a few miles away there was such a different mind set and intent. Then I realized that the land had called me. There were things for me to learn in this particular spot - not only about my section of the woods, but about this area and the people who live here.
I was born in NY State, but have lived my whole married life (46 years) in Canada. I was a professional violinist for 44 years until I retired in 2013. In 1985 the plants started talking to me in the woods in Ontario where I strolled healing from the sudden death of my father. For two years I did nothing but identify every new flowering plant I came upon, making my family crazy as I yelled for my husband to stop the car so I could go identify a new flower I had spied as we sped past.
Later, I became a practicing herbalist taking a number of courses which culminated in the 3-year course for Clinical Herbalism offered by Dominion Herbal College. I make all my medicines and teach classes in practical herbalism, showing others how to care for their own health. My herb gardens in Canada are quite large and diverse.
When I bought Eden Hyll I swore I wouldn’t garden; just relax. Once again the land and the beings on/in it started nattering in my ear and I’ve begun a few projects that seem to increase in size even when I’m not there!
The slope along my shoreline offered a wonderful opportunity for the thinning out of young trees, leaving the large mature ones and allowing the plants on the woods floor more light and space. What a difference in six years.
I’ve introduced Golden Seal, Black Cohosh, Wild Ginger, and Bloodroot. I’ve made three trails so far and I also have a ‘garden’ which the woman who owned the cabin before me started. She became frustrated with the sandy soil conditions and finally threw a package of wild flower seeds over the ground. I now have a perfusion of Daisies, Black-Eyed Susan, Yarrow, Digitalis, Lupin and Echinacea, to name a few.
The lessons from this little chunk of land are numerous. Probably my most memorable gift was a friendship with Pat Arnold, a lifelong resident of the area in general, and Natural Bridge in particular. I had heard about her from a mutual friend, but for one reason and another, it took a couple of years for us to meet. Luckily she didn’t take offense at my note left in her mailbox, introducing myself and saying I would love to get together sometime and talk about the plants. Little did I know how much I would learn from one of the most amazing women I will ever meet, in the two and a half years before her untimely death in November, 2014; not just about the plants and trees, but every conceivable aspect of the wilderness ecology. Her voice is still with me, and I walk the woods with her beside me.
This summer I plan to host an open house at Eden Hyll. I hope a few acquaintances from Natural Bridge and maybe some of my pond neighbors will come and enjoy a walk along my trails, hearing a little about the plants growing all around us. Maybe there will be interest in doing some herbal salve making or sipping ‘wild’ tea! The more we learn about our earthly home, the better stewards we all can become.
Currently, my land grows the following:
Species at Risk:
Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid
Trillium - 3 species
Species to Watch:
I am currently at work on a full census of all the plants growing on my land.
For more information about Eden Hyll, please contact me.
To read about United Plant Savers, please visit their website here: