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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


New native plant garden installed

A large native plant garden is being constructed at Gull Creek Assisted Living in Berlin. The garden has meandering walking paths for residents and nature lovers to explore.

By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer

Gull Creek Assisted Living residents cheer on crews as lawn gets transformed 

(June 15, 2023) Gull Creek Senior Living residents in Berlin have been watching for months as an expansive garden and meandering walking paths were being installed in what was once a large empty lawn.

William Daugherty, one of the owners of Gull Creek, is passionate about agriculture and gardening and made the decision to create a native garden for the residents and local community. He is funding the project himself and was on site for the installation, watering the plants and getting his hands dirty.

“Gardens are wonderful in so many ways.  This will give our residents the ability to get outdoors and enjoy nature,” Daugherty said.

Residents, eager to enjoy the gardens, got their first opportunity to do that last month.

“On May 2, when the pathways were completed, residents enjoyed an inaugural walk, roll and stroll to check out the new pathways,” said the manager of the project, Scott Hill.

“Twenty-five people tested out the paths. We had a ribbon cutting from the door to nowhere.”

The door to nowhere led out to the grass lawn, which was inhospitable for most residents to traverse. The door is now the entrance to the gardens.

“Residents have often been on their balcony applauding us,” said Maryann Malarkey, the landscape designer for the project.

Malarkey lives in Boston, but was excited to be approached by Daugherty, whom she has worked with before, to design the project.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea, giving your residents an outdoor oasis. It’s another world. It can be gentle, it can be challenging, it can be everything from peaceful to powerful. A place to walk, engage, meditate, have therapy. I believe strongly that being outside is so lifegiving,” Malarkey said.

She said that since the garden will be mostly native plants, it won’t have that pop that a typical mall garden might have.

“Things will be a little more subtle. It will be a quieter garden.”

There will be many opportunities to enjoy the garden. Sixteen park benches, 10 chairs and three tables will be placed throughout the gardens.  There will also be 34 rocking chairs. The garden is designed with outdoor rooms to meet with friends and family.

Malarkey designed the garden around a giant maple tree.

“It’s the grand-daddy of the garden,” she said.

The garden will be populated by deciduous trees for birds, flowers for pollinators and berry bushes for food. Bird houses that used to be on the lawn will be incorporated into the gardens. There will also be a rain garden.

Twelve trucks hauled 240 tons of dirt to establish the garden and more than 1,000 plants and trees are being planted.

Dougherty imagines the resident’s grandchildren coming for a visit and running along the garden paths and enjoying nature.

Jamie Tripplett, the resident activity director at Gull Creek is already planning activities for the gardens. These include a walking group, yoga and other exercise programs, movie night and worship services. She hopes to work with the Worcester County Arts Council to display artwork and do demonstrations in the sunroom overlooking the gardens.

Dougherty plans to measure the paths and place signs with distances, so residents know how far they have walked.

Many local companies have been involved in the development of the gardens. Harkins Concrete Construction laid the pathways.  Bluebird Nursery provided the plants. Scotland Yard did all the landscaping. Benches were purchased from Victor Stanley, a company out of Dunkirk.

“This project has been local from the ground up,” Malarkey said.

Dougherty plans to host an open house for neighbors once the project is complete to celebrate the partners in the project and welcome the community to enjoy all the gardens have to offer.