Simon Payn is getting his hands dirty as he creates a garden at the corner of Maple Avenue and Mountain Street in downtown Haliburton.

Passers-by might have seen work progressing at the historic Lucas House, which houses the Corner Gallery, Lebo Law and The Highlander.

Payn said he is creating a garden that not only appeals to him but also serves the interests of nature as a whole.

“I’ve carefully selected plants that will create an ecosystem, benefiting everything from invertebrates to birds,” he said. “I hope it will be beautiful to nature as well as to us.”

Payn said this approach to gardening will reduce maintenance. He has removed the lawn and replaced it with native plants from Haliburton County and the wider area, including little bluestem, pale purple coneflower, and swamp milkweed. These plants are suited to living here, meaning they don’t need much care.

He ordered 1,200 small plants from a nursery and expects in a year or two they will cover the ground and eliminate the need for weeding.

“As the plants are getting established, they need to be watered in hot and dry weather,” he said. “But as time goes on, all it will require is a little tweaking as the plants mature.”

Instead of gardening to please humans, Payn said his landscape considers the environment too.

“It’s a different approach to how we live in the world,” he said. “You do things for the benefit of the wider world – wider biodiversity, wider ecosystems. When they benefit, it benefits us too.”

Payn said his garden shows how people can adopt sustainable practices that go beyond our own needs. He hopes his garden serves as an inspiration to those who are trying to make a positive impact on the world around them.

Payn is co-owner and former publisher of The Highlander.