Local Hero Profile: Wilder Hill Gardens
Local Hero Profile by Ellery Pool, TerraCorps Service Member
If you are looking for sustainably grown nursery plants, gorgeous cut flowers, and thoughtful and personalized landscape design, Wilder Hill Gardens, run by Lilian Jackman, will check all your boxes in a beautifully and lovingly curated setting. Jackman began the business 30 years ago and has been tending the gardens at her current site on South Shirkshire Road in Conway for 21 years. I visited Jackman to talk about her growing practices and what she loves about what she does.
Jackman grows her nursery plants and flowers with sustainable methods and holds goals “to provide well grown nursery stock while using as little petroleum as possible.” To meet these goals, Jackman and her employees do not use heavy equipment, herbicides, or pesticides, and fertilizer is only used on shrubs that are grown in pots for an extended period of time. She also grows her flower and herb starts within passive solar-powered cold frames to keep them warm and safe when they are still tiny.
Additionally, Jackman minimizes waste in her operation by reusing and repurposing materials. She explains that, “If I’m digging up sod or raking up leaves, I just move it from place to place.” She has also taken care to use cover crops to build a thick layer of topsoil, which allows her plants to thrive from seed to adulthood. Jackman emphasizes the need to care for her plants during their entire life cycle, explaining that, “a lot of times people think buying the plant and putting it in the ground (is the entire process of nursery plants), and that’s just the very last part of it. So much of (growing healthy plants) is about soil.”
On top of providing locally grown nursery stock that is hardy to the weather conditions of New England, Jackman provides landscape design services for customers’ outdoor spaces and creates floral arrangements for weddings. She approaches landscape design as “an opportunity to create habitat” for pollinators and other wildlife, and explains that everyone can have an outdoor space that balances beauty, comfort, and ecological wellness. Some of the flowers grown at Wilder Hill Gardens are there for customers to cut and take home, and they also grow up to be the floral arrangements for weddings and other special events.
Wilder Hill Gardens is not only your one-stop shop for quality nursery stock, landscaping, and flowers, but it is also a beautiful place in itself for wandering and enjoying the gorgeousness. The thought and care that Jackman has invested into Wilder Hill is evident in the design of the gardens, and a visit to pick up some shrubs can easily turn into a stroll through the exquisite plant communities.
Jackman explains that the most rewarding part of her work is that “I get to live in a beautiful place,” and she wants to share that beauty with everyone who visits. Her intention with growing at Wilder Hill is “creating something that draws people,” and she loves the community that comes from customers visiting, enjoying the sense of place, and getting to know her and her team of employees and volunteers.
You can visit Wilder Hill Gardens any time and experience the peacefulness and contemplativeness of the space. As someone with diverse creative pursuits, Jackman also enjoys printmaking during the off-season, and she has a printing press and studio on the property. She is offering introductory printing classes in her studio for three days in the fall. For more information you can go to the printing press website, https://www.wilderhillpress.com/. For Wilder Hill Gardens information, you can visit the Garden website, https://www.wilderhillgardens.com/.