What do you do with an exorbitant quantity of rocks that no one quite knows what to do with? I mean, a LOT of rocks? If you’re Dan Lindley, you turn them into an enormous rock garden. I’ve seen the ongoing project several times, and it’s amazing. However, Lindley, who lives and lugs rocks at the Tel-Hai Retirement Community in Honey Brook, PA, has resisted any publicity or praise for his efforts. Earlier this year, though, when pressed by fellow Tel-Hai resident and gardener Shirley Walton, Lindley agreed to let Walton enter him in my informal “Homegrown National Park” contest.
Walton wrote, “I am submitting Dan Lindley’s garden in your contest. If you remember, years ago we looked at Dan’s garden when it was just starting. Dan insisted no name, no publicity, no story. The other night he came to the garden where I was working, and asked if I had read your article about the contest. I replied that I had, and said I thought he should enter the contest. I told him I would take pictures and send it in. He said that would be okay.”
Here’s Lindley’s story, as told by Walton:
A “Rocking” Rock Garden
“Dan Lindley’s garden is like the Rocky Mountain National Park. Several years ago, Dan started working on a rubble of stones, poison ivy, tree stumps, and weeds. This mess was the leftovers from the construction of his apartment building. Not being happy with this as his view, he started on a one-man project to create a garden.
“Using his pickup truck, he hauled out the bad stuff, and hauled in dirt and plants. Having no water source, he brought in water, using 5-gallon buckets, later investing in a water tank for the back of his truck. He asked residents to drop off holiday plants, rather than throw them away. He also asked a local cemetery to place any plants that they were disposing of outside their gates and he would pick them up. Little by little, the garden was growing.
“Today, the garden is beautiful, although Dan says it’s still in the making. There is a cutting section—complete with scissors and plastic bags—where residents can cut a bouquet for their home. The rocks, being the focal point, are filled with an assortment of plants. This shows that if you can’t haul them [the rocks] away, fill the spaces among them with dirt, and plant flowers.
“There are benches for residents to sit and enjoy the beauty. Dan found a rocking chair in the trash, fixed it, and put it in the garden. Hence the name, the “Rocking Rock Garden.”
“Many residents now help Dan with the garden. One lady spends hours each day, weeding the area. Others help water, and plant bushes, bulbs, and flowers. But the man who is always there is “Dan, the Rock Man.”
Many thanks to Shirley Walton for bringing this story to light. Walton, herself, spends many hours working in the Pollinators Garden that she and a group of other residents created elsewhere on the Tel-Hai property, and in teaching how to plant for and to protect monarch butterflies.
There are still several more “Homegrown National Park” entries that I’d like to share with you, and I hope to do that over the winter.