Tending Hidden Treasures
Sally Jeter Gregg
If you’re a newcomer to the Laurel Park community, like I am, it’s easy to see why this panoramic perch has long drawn legions of visitors. Beyond the breathtaking views around every corner and the vast night skies that fill with stars, this mountain is adorned with hidden treasures and a host of residents who treasure its history.
In the early 1900’s, as droves of tourists made their way to Laurel Park to collect the fresh spring water that cascaded down the mountain and pooled into the popular Crystal Spring, an acclaimed children’s novel was published (at the very same time) about a locked away garden being found and brought back to life. Like the magical spot in The Secret Garden, that flourished again with a little love, our very own Crystal Spring was nearly forgotten until twenty years ago when local leaders began restoring its charm.
Today, thanks to the recent efforts of the Parks and Greenways Advisory Board, the Friends of Laurel Park, and a willing committee of volunteers, this shady little haven off the beaten path, is looking better than ever. With local resident Jenny Brown leading the latest push to keep up the maintenance – almost a dozen folks turned out during the month of October to weed, and rake, to prune and plant and mitigate some minor issues with the main water flow. Brown, who happily reported that more than 160 native plants were added to the mossy surrounding, says visitors should be on the lookout for the bright white blooms of Anemone, the vibrant green of Creeping Jenny and the showy leaves of Autumn Toad Lilly, among many other new additions. “We enlisted the help of local landscape architect Tricia King,” said Brown, “to ensure we selected plants that are indigenous to this area, and species that will compliment, but not overpower, the setting. Tricia gave generously of her time in selecting and laying out the plants for us and an anonymous donor purchased the plants as a gift to the community.”
Back in the 1900’s, when Crystal Spring was a sought-out destination, a tram was built to transport sightseers up and down the mountain and an Inn was built to accommodate their stays. While, the cool clear water that pours from the spring isn’t potable anymore, the restorative power of this peaceful place shouldn’t ever be forgotten. “If you haven’t been to see it lately,” says Brown, “or you’ve never known it’s there – treat yourself to some quiet time and see if it doesn’t quench the soul.” And from this newest neighbor who’s fortunate to live just blocks away from the CSP (Crystal Spring Park) my compliments to those who continue to tend this iconic treasure. As we’re reminded in The Secret Garden, “As long as you have a garden, you have a future and as long as you have a future, you are alive.”
In addition to the gardens and cascading spring, a network of trails is being developed behind the spring that will add connections from Crystal Spring up to Old Laurel Drive, as part of the Town’s Blue Trail. This too is a collaboration between the Parks and Greenway Committee and Friends of Laurel Park. Look for a coming article about where to access these expanding trails!
If you’d like to be alerted about workdays at CSP - send us your email address and we’ll keep you apprised of our efforts. In the meantime, if you see the following friends and neighbors give ‘em a shout-out for their recent contributions to our beautiful Crystal Spring:
Gary Anderson, Jane Ansley, George Banta, Jenny Brown, Sally Buchholz, Knox Crowell,
Mike Erwin, Sally Gregg, Paul Hansen, Tricia King, Ed Mattern, Charlotte Riddle