artGuidemag art blog was given access to an artists retreat and bird sanctuary

Mary Erickson

Mary Erickson

Mary Erickson of High Ridge Gardens shares insight into a beautifully tranquil bird sanctuary and artist retreat.  artGuidemag art blog was excited to learn about High Ridge Gardens' history and place in plein air art. 

With canopied country lanes, meandering meadows of green and gold, whisper quiet creeks, and gently rolling hills, the rural villages of Marshville and Peachland boast more fence posts and horses than people. Tucked snuggly away and centrally between interstate highways, it continues to defy time and the temptation to “improve”.  Artists come from far and wide to settle, sketch the barns, paint the fields, capture the magic of this area lost in time.  There is no traffic, no big box stores, no noise. Horses have the right of way here.

“My former husband, John Edmondson and I purchased the neighboring property to our home in September 2006, giving us close to 40 acres to oversee.  That fall, an adjacent 130 acres of woods was “harvested” –cut, bulldozed and burned.  As I sat on the hill overlooking the charred remains, I worried where all of the winter and migrating birds would go. I put up feeders all along the fence line to help the birds that came back to find their food and protective tree cover gone. That was the beginning of an  all-consuming work in progress!

We now have bird feeders scattered throughout the pastures, trails, and woods. We are continually adding nesting boxes, and mow selectively, to give adequate cover and nesting grounds for many different species. We have two year-round ponds and one seasonal wetland, in addition to birdbaths, to provide a bountiful water source.  In addition to almost 70 “sight” identified birds, we have deer, raccoon, rabbit, bobcat, possum, and fox.  Feral cats are trapped and turned in to the local animal rescue.  We use pesticides and fertilizer only as a last resort, and then very sparingly, on the property.
Mornings in spring host a cacaphony of bird song, and on summer nights we listen to the chorus of frogs, crickets and cicadas.  Our dream is to leave the property as an ongoing artists’ retreat and bird sanctuary, long after we need to be here, so that others can enjoy its serene beauty.”

-Mary Erickson

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