High Ridge Gardens
                                                  artists' retreat and bird sanctuary
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The Property
Off a canopied country lane, High Ridge Gardens is tucked between Charlotte and Wilmington off Route 74, outside of Marshville and Peachland. It is 39 acres of North Carolina Piedmont farmland with rolling hills, pastures, woodlands, ponds, hay bales, two barns, horses, goats and wildlife. 

Bird feeders are scattered throughout the pastures, trails and woods. Mowing is done selectively, to give adequate cover and nesting grounds for many different species. There are two year-round ponds and one seasonal wetland, in addition to birdbaths, to provide a bountiful water source. In addition to almost 70 “sight” identified birds, the grounds host deer, raccoon, rabbit, bobcat, possum, coyote and fox.  Feral cats are trapped and turned in to the local animal rescue. Pesticides and fertilizer are sparingly used, only as a last resort, on the property.


The seasons, warm summers and mild winters, bring ever-changing scenery for the artist. 

Winter is a bare-treed 
brown and grey tonalist 
landscape,  with mild enough temperatures 
for plein air painting. Snowfall is rare.


Spring brings an explosion of greens and yellows, nesting birds and colorful neighboring gardens and fields. Mornings host a cacophony of bird song.

Summer is an often misty, lush green palette with thunderclouds and varied skies. Night songs include the chorus of owls, frogs, crickets and cicadas.  

Fall lends itself to a subtle shift in the landscape, and depending on the rainfall, sometimes vibrant with layers of red and orange, other years more subtle with ochres and alizarins running through the landscape.

For birders, spring and fall migration brings visitors like glossy ibis, solitary sandpipers, white-throated sparrows, yellow breasted chat, hummingbirds and others. Regular residents include blue heron, chickadees, titmouse, cardinals, various woodpeckers, and warblers. The trails accommodate light hiking through a mixed terrain with changing ecosystems, wildflowers and active birdlife.

Promise of Spring                        OIL            www.MaryEricksonART.com

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