A Natural Inheritance
By Michele Berardi
In 1681, William Penn specified that settlers coming to the lands granted to him by English King Charles II (Charles called it “Pennsylvania”) must preserve one acre of trees for every five acres cleared. Their descendants extended Penn’s farsighted conservation measures by planting and studying collections of trees. Nearly 300 years after Penn, a gift from Philadelphia-area Quakers helped establish Kendal Crosslands Communities, a continuing care retirement community in Kennett Square, and they immediately turned to improving the environment.
It’s therefore not surprising then that Kendal~Crosslands still maintains a focus on sustaining the natural environment. The campus includes a 500-acre, certified Arboretum surrounded by forests, meadows, tranquil water features, luscious manicured gardens, over 7 miles of hiking trails, and rolling hills. Preserving the campus’ capacity to sustain and inspire, along with nature that nurtures, requires a creative responsibility towards the Earth that has been inherited from previous generations. It is the community’s intention to leave the next generation a legacy of sustainably managed resources that bequeaths to the future a world that is rich in beauty and diversity.
Both staff and residents take great care in maintaining and improving the landscaped grounds and have been very active in the stewardship of natural resources, including the restoration of a rich diversity of plants that provide native habitat for birds and other wildlife. Over the past few years, resident volunteers and staff have planted more than 500 woody plants in the forests and countless wildflower plugs in the meadows. Residents enjoy life and the natural beauty of the world around them, and it’s evident with their countless hours of labor to sustain it.
As a result of the efforts of the staff horticulturist and many residents, the Kendal~Crosslands campus has been certified as an official Arboretum, through the Morton Register of Arboreta. Joint committees work with local horticulture and nature conservancy groups to sponsor public events at the Kendal~Crosslands Arboretum (www.kcarboretum.org), service programs for area youth, and educational programs and other health-giving involvement for the residents.
Additionally, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has designated the Kendal~Crosslands campus as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. NWF celebrates and recognizes the efforts of the Community to create outdoor spaces that improve habitats for birds, butterflies, frogs, and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife, including natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young.
“Providing a home for wildlife in our communities– whether it’s at home or in schools, businesses or parks– is the demonstration of a healthy and active ecosystem. There is no more rewarding way to stay connected to nature right outside your door,” said NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski.
“We’ve added numerous meadows over the past years, and they provide secure nesting places for song sparrows and abundant food sources for butterflies and insects,” said Mark Swick, Kendal~Crosslands’ Grounds Supervisor. “Our forests are wonderful havens and home to wild turkey and many bird species such as: the Scarlet Tanager, Woodthrush, Ovenbird, Verry, Bluebirds, and various owls.”
Kendal began more than 40 years ago in historic Chester County, adjacent to Longwood Gardens, and the organization has since grown to 12 other diverse Kendal communities in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest regions. The Kennett Square, Pa. location consists of four communities, Kendal at Longwood, Crosslands, Coniston, and Cartmel. Kendal offers diverse choices in residential cottages and apartment living coupled with wonderful amenities. Recently, a redesign of one of the fitness and aquatic centers included an indoor salt-water pool. Salt water has several advantages: it feels soft and soothing; it has no odor; and it doesn’t cause unwelcomed affects from harsh pool chemicals. Additionally, work has been completed on an innovative new health center featuring a cozy neighborhood for skilled nursing residents with expansive country kitchens, large living rooms and many windows to bring the outdoor garden spaces indoors.
Kendal~Crosslands Communities’ neighbors include many local landmarks, such as Longwood Gardens, Brandywine Battlefield, Winterthur, Brandywine River Museum, and the vibrant towns of Kennett Square and West Chester—all of which contribute to the well-being of residents.
As one of the area’s most highly regarded continuing care communities, Kendal~Crosslands has a long legacy to build upon and one to leave as well. Residents, who come from not only the local area but also from across the country, help add to the diverse beauty of its natural outdoor spaces. The grounds of Kendal~Crosslands are a place of peace and tranquility, inspiration and joy; the community provides a landscape that supports each person’s individual needs and interests while reflecting the richness of community living.