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  • Sue Leamy Kies

Plant it and They Will Come!

Carley (front) and fellow volunteer, Ellen Carnahan (back)

Carley Borcherding loves “playing in the dirt,” and that’s just what she’d been doing along the Rountree Branch Trail since its inception. In 2004 Carley and Alliene LaChine first met with Dr. David Canny in his home to view a video of his horticultural vision for the trail. Karin Peacock and Bev Loy, two other master gardeners, soon joined in the project. And, thanks to their initial planning, planting and foresight, look at the lovely community asset we’ve got today!

An original member of the Wednesday morning “social” crew, Carley has also worked with school groups and planted many varieties of grasses along the trail. Her favorite plants are those that have a story. For example, the compass plant aligns its leaves pointing in a north/south direction, with the flat sides of its leaves facing east/west. Pioneers used this phenomena to orient themselves while traveling. Plus, as the yellow flowers mature they provide food in the form of seeds for birds, particularly goldfinches.

Carley’s not shy about digging in on all trail tasks, including mulching, weeding, trimming, planting and watering. “Volunteers are some of the best people to know because they CARE,” she says. “They care about people whether it is family, neighbors, the environment or community. It is a great way to meet new friends.”

Her knowledge of native plants comes in handy when deciding what plants should be pulled or cut out to encourage the growth of others. She is a relentless weeder, and the gardens look beautiful because of it. “Anything growing where it’s not supposed to is a weed,” she says. “So get it out!”

Carley (left) and fellow Wednesday morning crew volunteers

The woodland flowers in spring are especially inspiring to Carley. That and Fairy Gardens. She says creating Fairy Gardens “lets me be a kid again, after all I’m in my second childhood.” She has also been instrumental in instituting the Story Walks on the trail which provide children and their families a way to take in nature along with a fun tale.

In 1994 Carley retired from Farm and Fleet and enjoys traveling, crafts, pressed flowers, the Arts, sewing and needlework. She has three children, including Greg in Winona, Minnesota, Bruce in Milwaukee, and Janet Kelly in Waterville, Iowa. Three grandkids and a great granddaughter round out her family.

The trail has been, and still is, a chore of love for Carley. “Over the years, I have received far more in return than what I have given in time and resources.” She is pleased with how “the community came together to support the trail with their time, talents, hard work and resources.”

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