The property was a Marsh family farm. In the 1920’s it was part of the original Edgebrook Subdivision developed by notable Rockford architect, Jesse Barloga. As such, it was part of the Edgebrook golf course. The course began at Brookview Roadand Springcreek Road, turned at Alpine Road and ended at the present day Edgebrook shopping center. The barns are built atop the first hold sand traps.
Harding’s owned three of the original lots. The fourth, The Fairbairn property was acquired in 1994. Today, the gardens comprise less than five acres.
The gardens began most inauspiciously in 1985 with five roto-tilled rows carved out of the Harding children’s former horse paddock. The incredibly rich solid produced atomic vegetables that first year and Ben and Karen Harding were really “hooked” on gardening and the rest, as they say, is history. Landscape Architect Thomas Graceffa and Associates of Rockford, Illinois were engaged to develop and implement the master design scheme over the construction years that followed.
The first area of the gardens to develop was the formal vegetable garden which is fashioned after a favorite garden in France at Chateau Villandry. It is a 60 x 60 feet square. The sculptural fountain in the center is a yucca filamentosa by Lee Blackwell of Tuback Arizona. The formal construction was completed in 1987 with semi-permanent plantings of perennials and the annual plantings of vegetables and flowers.
The Swan Pond was constructed in 1989. It is 85 feet long and 65 feet wide. Since 1990, it has been the home of two royal European mute swans named Peeper and Pieper. They arrived as gray cygnets and grew into beautiful creatures they are today. As their pond does freeze in a cold winter, they go away to swan camp for the winter season. They are always happy to return home each spring. They are banded and registered and belong to the garden.
The sound brim at the rear of the property was constructed from the foundation diggings at Saint Anne’s at Highcrest. It has approximately 1500 loads of soil.
In 1991 the long stair case was constructed for the Becky Harding/Scott Morris wedding. We refer to it as the “Here comes the bride stairs”.
With the addition of the Fairbairn property in 1994 construction began on the paved path and rill water system to facilitate the gardens use as a barrier free environment. La Paloma meets with the Americans With Disabilities Act requirements.
The Koi house was designed by Sam Darby, Rockford architect and garden friend in 1997.
The Italian courtyard was created in spring of 2000 in memory of Ben Harding. Italy was one of his favorite places on Earth.
The garden is a joy to the Harding family and a delight to share with friends and visitors. Welcome and enjoy your visit.