Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Delaney Farms: Thank You for Your Effort

The Gethsemane Prayer Garden received a significant gift yesterday: our neighbors to the south removed a large pile of debris that was on their property. These neighbors are Dave and JoAnn Delaney, owners of Delaney Farms on Onondaga Hill. By going to this effort, the landscape around the garden was suddenly boosted in aesthetic beauty.

When Faith Chapel selected the site for the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in 2003, it had been a farmer's field with lots of plant debris along the south and west sides. Many people did not know that there was a stream along the west side because so much vegetation had grown there. Much of that area was filled with buckthorns, a highly invasive shrub or small tree that is a true challenge to remove. The farmer had also pushed many small and large rocks from the field into this area so that the land could be tilled. Large willow branches had fallen haphazardly throughout, wild grape vines followed their own path up the large trees, and wild roses rooted themselves throughout. It has taken ten years for our teams to methodically clean up this area, but now the beauty of the stream can be more readily enjoyed.

Fifteen years ago, our neighbors the Delaney's dealt with the debris problem in the same way as we do: create piles of willow and other scrub material at the far end of their property. When we chose the prayer garden site, we saw this seemingly endless pile of junk. While it was our choice to put the garden there, no matter how you looked at it, it simply did not fit with the beauty of a garden.

Photo from Google Earth, image date 6/3/2011

Earlier this spring, Dave Delaney graciously decided to correct this eyesore. By using a chain saw, chipper, and backhoe, he attacked this problem head-on – he started by cutting down many of the trees that had become overgrown near his home. Over three days, he used a chipper to shred these bush and tree branches, creating many large piles of fresh mulch.

Dave had a different plan for the area of the prayer garden, realizing that a more dramatic effort was needed. Some of the willow that had been placed there were two and three feet in diameter, and there was much other undergrowth that was easier to approach with a backhoe. Dave's solution was to dig a trench to bury it; his trench was 100' long by 8' wide by 6' deep. When he dug the trench yesterday, I thought he would never be able to get all this plant stuff in there, but he did. The ground is roughly 12" higher than it previously was – when leveled out, it will look like the rest of his lawn.

Last fall we placed a large wooden cross in this portion of the garden. Now when we now look south, majestic stands of deep-green spruce trees catch the eye; it is a serene picture that is far more suiting to a landscaped garden.

Over the coming years, these old tree trunks and other plant stuff will decompose. The water that is currently in the branches will slowly disappear and cause their lawn area to settle. Each spring he may need to drive his backhoe over the area causing the trench to collapse as it decays.

As I said to Dave, "You are doing the right thing as a neighbor, and we thank you for it."