Gardens grow seeds of history
Fifty years ago, Eliot Smith’s great-grandmother, Ellen Payne,
joined a handful of other community-minded individuals to begin the groundwork for the Daniel Boone
Native Gardens in the budding county seat.
Today, that same group-before-self spirit that was exhibited by Smith’s ancestor is evident in the precocious 15-year-old, who is working to preserve the gardens and Payne’s vision.
As part of his community service requirement for the Boy Scouts of America, Smith plans to repair and spruce up the gardens’ trail system that meanders through a thicket of soon to bloom rhododendrons.
By completing the project, Smith will meet the necessary requirements for the Boy Scouts’ most prestigious ranking — Eagle Scout.
“The requirements for the project (said) I was suppose to do it in a way that doesn’t directly benefit me and couldn’t be just routine maintenance,” said Smith of Troop 109. “You can’t just go clean a street or something. I picked the gardens because my grandmother was a founder, so my family has a lot of connections. It was pretty cool to have the opportunity to do that.”
Smith has already put in countless hours of planning for the project and realizes the trail cleanup will be no small undertaking.
“I’m not exactly sure how bad it is, but it is definitely pretty difficult to walk,” Smith said of the trail’s position. “The sides are already starting to wash out, and we’ll have to go through to repair that… One of the big things is to get rid of all the leaves, sticks and branches that are obstructing the path. There is still some damage from the storms of a couple of years ago, and I bet there is some from the storm we are having now. There’ll probably be some downed trees.”
Smith will also have some help, as he has assembled a team of friends and family members to bring the trails up to par.
His crew plans to take to the gardens this weekend — weather permitting — to help Smith realize a lifelong dream.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in just getting to this point,” said Smith, who has been a scout since age 6.
Aside from bettering his community, Smith enjoys his time as a Boy Scout in the woods camping, along with other nature-themed excursions.
“I also enjoy being able to help younger scouts, like how to set up a tent, how to cook and tie knots and all of those useful skills,” he said.
Now that he is on the cusp of realizing the Boy Scouts’ highest honor, Smith said the whole feeling is a bit surreal.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s really cool to be this close to (becoming) an Eagle. Our troop has a lot of Eagles. We have one of the highest success rankings in the state.”
The Daniel Boone Native Gardens is located at 651 Horn in the West Drive in Boone. For more information, visit http://www.danielboonenativegardens.org or call (828) 264-6390.