The story began with 2 cousins, Michael and David Logsdon, wishing to memorialize loved ones, and connect people with the wonder, beauty, and value of trees and plants. They met with HF&G’s vice presidents of Development and Horticulture, Caroline Tait and Deborah Miller, as well as members of the horticulture staff to discuss their ideas. Together, they decided on what was formerly known as Heath Pond, in the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden, as the site for their wishes and visions.
Heath Pond becomes Logsdon Pond. The 4-year renovation began in 2020 with a new planting design for the north edge of the pond, followed by the south edge in 2021, the east edge in 2022 and the west edge in 2023.
Although there were some accessioned plants around the pond, there was not a cohesive design. The four new design plans create a motif of native, pond friendly species, year-round interest and pops of color throughout. Some of the plants include: swamp milkweed Asclepias incarnata, swamp azaleas Rhododendron viscosum, dwarf dogwoods Cornus sericea ‘kelseyi’, Northern sea oats Chasmanthium latifolium, various hibiscus, black-eyed susans Rudbeckia hirta, umbrella plant Darmera peltata, ostrich fern Metteuccia struthiopteris, sensitive fern Onoclea sensibilis, and moss phlox Phlox subulata. A few non-native, noninvasive species were used as well such as Weigela florida ‘Summer Wine’ and Indian pink Spigelia marilandica. As the plants mature and fill in, against the mirror of the pond water, a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and textures appears.
The renovation of each section of the edge started with preparing the area with a sheet mulching technique to smother unwanted plants without using excessive amounts of herbicide chemicals. Hundreds of plants were planted by the Horticulture team during group work sessions. Layer Garden volunteers also contributed their time and kindness to this 4-year project.
The Logsdon generosity extended to 2 tribute benches as well as 2 new trees. A Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Golden Dawn’ and a Magnolia virginiana, aka sweetbay magnolia, were planted in the spring of 2023 to honor family members and enrich the pond with appropriate, moisture tolerant trees.
Ponds are special ecosystems for plants and wildlife. During one of our group work sessions on the East edge, we witnessed a snake giving birth! I often find dragonfly nymph shells on blades of grass while working on the North edge of the pond. All summer and into the fall there is a variety of pollinators in different stages of development visiting the plants. Guests of all ages witness and enjoy the flora and fauna as well, inspiring a deep appreciation and respect for the environment and its preservation.
The Logsdon Pond contributions don’t end there. Thanks to the family we can foster curious minds and the power of knowledge in individual students. The Logsdon’s generosity has included support for 3 interns who are given opportunities to learn about native plants, horticulture practices, soil science, ecology, sustainability, botany, and biology, not to mention leadership and critical thinking skills. The intern’s season culminates in a poster presentation at our SEARCH Symposium.
There are future plans to design and create a stone platform where guests can get close to the water to explore, play, and study, providing continued forward momentum for learning and appreciating nature. Visit Logsdon Pond year-round! You will find seasonal beauty and a sense of belonging. You will also see a natural area transformed. It began with 2 cousins and their wish to remember loved ones and give back to a public organization they have appreciated for years.
Thank you Logsdons! Your gifts are inspiring and will continue to give far into the future!
Mary Lineberger is a horticulturist in the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden. Previously she was the Garden Manager at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History as well as a seasonal hire at Holden in 2015 and 2016. She is pictured here with Norman, who before joining Mary’s family, was a scrawny stray wandering the woods surrounding Holden Arboretum.