How does our garden grow? North Star Conservancy says with time, dedication, patience — and volunteers |

How does our garden grow? North Star Conservancy says with time, dedication, patience — and volunteers

Submitted to The Union
After a lengthy labor of love, and the help of numerous volunteers and contributors, The Heritage Garden at the North Star House is nearly completed.
Submitted Photo

The building of The Heritage Garden at the North Star House was a larger endeavor than the North Star Historic Conservancy ever imagined, but now it is almost complete and the real gardeners can take over.

In June 2015, a news release states, the garden committee headed by Betzi Hart and North Star Historic Conservancy Board members Carole Miller, David Wright, and Cheryl Belcher, broke ground. The ribbon cutting to officially open the garden to the public will take place at 1:30 p.m. on June 23, and the community is invited.

The plaque at the front gate explains the reason the Heritage Garden was built at The North Star House, as follows: The Heritage Garden honors Arthur DeWint Foote’s horticultural skills and his affiliation with renowned horticulturalist Luther Burbank and Nevada City nurseryman Felix Gillet. In 1905 Foote began designing the Edwardian woodland landscape surrounding The North Star House. This garden includes plants and trees that grew in the original landscape, including roses found in the courtyard rose garden, a Felix Gillet heritage pear tree, and perennials inspired by Luther Burbank. The pond represents the original Julia Morgan-designed courtyard reflecting pond.

The garden project was a dream of the historians and volunteer gardeners who had been identifying heritage plants on the North Star property for over 10 years. It was begun with the assistance of a $10,000 grant from Soroptimist International of the Sierra Foothills.

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Before the “magic” could begin the site had to be prepared. The first large accomplishment was to clear away the old cement pad.

As background, The North Star House and property had been sold in 1968 by the Foote Family to a minister who used it as a boarding school for troubled youth. During that time many poorly constructed renovations and additions were made to the house and grounds. Most notably, cement pads held temporary shelters built as class rooms, the court yard was enclosed to become the dining hall, and the beautiful gardens and orchards were neglected. Mohr Excavation removed the concrete pad, filled and leveled the site, and installed the water line.

The plan for the garden, created by landscape designer James Pyle of Wu-Way Landscape and site architect David Wright, was now becoming a reality.


The North Star Historic Conservancy Rose Team, led by board member Carole Miller had identified roses and other plants that were in the original gardens and orchards of the house.

Paula Campbell and James Pyle were instrumental in helping to complete the planting plan. The Heritage Garden would include heritage roses, peonies, hydrangeas, boxwood, grapes, and fruit trees to represent the plants that had once been on the property.

In 2016 the Heritage Garden started to take shape with rock retaining walls, built by Ron Bailey Masonry. Volunteers Charlie Brock, Makio Terrell, and John Schugren erected the Garden Shed. Sierra Solar Systems donated and installed a solar system in the shed to provide power for the garden. Almost immediately, it was determined that a shade shelter was going to be required for the hydrangeas and other shade loving plants. The Rotary Club of Nevada City 49er Breakfast Club stepped in to save the day and build the shade structure.

Fence materials were supplied by Nevada County Fence and B&C Ace Hardware. The pond donated by Charles Hart was built by James Pyle. The gates were designed and built by Jerry LaFerriere (front) and David Wright (back). Just think all of this was done before even one plant was in the ground.

Planting started with the two large trees donated by the McKeen and Tilman families. The five local Rotary Clubs and the Soroptimist International of the Sierra Foothills helped with the initial planting, the front arbor, the pathways, and irrigation system. Board Member Larry Dulmage built the four benches donated by the Emanuel Family, Charles and Betzi Hart, the Plagge Family, and the Tilman Family. The majority of the work has been completed by North Star Historic Conservancy volunteers and Wu-Way Landscaping.

“Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, crafts, and business that made the Heritage Garden at The North Star House a reality,” a news release states. “If you would like to join the gardeners in taking care of The Heritage Garden, please leave a message for Paula Campbell at The North Star House at 530-477-7126.”

Source: North Star Historic Conservancy

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