Stewards of the Land
A personal journey through the Urquhart oasis
The gravel path entering Richard and Barbara Urquhart’s property beckons me forward; yet the side paths are too tempting causing me to suddenly slow my pace for a peek.
As I journey further, I realize I’m not entering a mere garden, but rather an oasis; the temperature lowers with each step. Soon the green moss lawns and large rock outcroppings become visible, calmness washes over me. I now spy birds in flight and hear the sounds of their chirping – welcoming the visitor to their gardens.
This is their safe haven, because when the Urquhart’s purchased this land to call home some 40 years ago, they were well aware of the uniqueness of their property. While the law recognized them as land owners, they knew they had a larger responsibility choosing to become stewards of the land.
When speaking with Mr. Urquhart, a huge and deserving pride for the property he and his wife preserved was evident. Mr. Urquhart comments, “We feed our birds and other wildlife daily and are richly rewarded by the constant activity! It’s been a great joy in providing a welcoming and safe habitat for a variety of wildlife.”
Many winding paths around the 2 acre parcel facilitates a gentle stroll allowing one the opportunity to admire the flora and fauna that abound. As I enter the back gardens, I hear the soothing sound of water running; the sound coming from each of the three incredible water features.
From where I stand at the apex, I see a 60-foot drop in elevation to Crabtree Creek giving way to an immediate feeling of being on a mountain top. Sensing my surprise, Mr. Urquhart says, “You never know this place could be right here in Raleigh.” Indeed! At that moment, I was reflecting back to a trip I made to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Mr. Urquhart invites me to stay a while. I do. I admire the native plants, the unique planting vignettes tucked in tree stumps and between the stones. I note his Mountain Laurels look as well, if not better, than the ones in the mountains, and then I find myself so grateful for the generosity of Richard and Barbara Urquhart to open their garden for fund raising events. As Mr. Urquhart reflects, I am glad to have something right in my backyard that can raise awareness of nature and help support our horticultural heritage.
An edited version of this garden profile appeared in the September 2008 issue of Metro Magazine. www.metronc.com
Mr. Urquhart died peacefully napping in his armchair overlooking his garden days after this story was published. He was 90 years old.