Gardener’s gift: Local gardener’s labor of love

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

There are people who commit to making a difference, often quietly working behind the scenes. One such person is Roger Northrup, Schoolcraft resident and avid golfer and gardener, who lovingly tends a garden to welcome visitors to the Dome.

Roger has been a golfer his entire life and became acquainted with the Dome years ago through owners Erica and Dieter Valk. The Valks began a flower garden adjacent to the driving range near the back of the property, and the plot caught Roger’s eye. He decided to offer his time and gardening skills, and so began his volunteer efforts nearly 15 years ago. When current owners Josh and Amber Baird acquired the property, Roger’s care and commitment went right along with it.

There are many things Roger enjoys about tending the garden, which he visits twice a day—morning and night. He says there are many surprises — and occasional “beautiful accidents”— that go along with gardening the same piece over many years. Sometimes wildflowers and unplanned plants appear which can add to the beauty. Sometimes he moves plants to a more suitable section. Sometimes the sunrise or sunset illuminate the blossoms in a new way. And sometimes, as all experienced gardeners know, he battles invasive species and various beetles and pests.

He enjoys it all.

He says the garden is a peaceful and calm place, full of wildlife: rabbits, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and various songbirds visit regularly. Roger’s wife and daughter have also begun helping him, and he claims he couldn’t maintain the garden “without his team.” He has added roses over the years, which are often cuttings from his home garden. “The roses have been exceptional this year and have bloomed all season.” What plant wouldn’t thrive under his gentle care?

Why does Roger continue this time-consuming project? “Well, I just love how people appreciate this garden and tell me so. That means a lot to me.”

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