It was a chilly, gray morning Wednesday at the RiverWalk at Head of Falls in Waterville, but the folks bent over in the island gardens there were cheerful.

They were strategically placing potted plants, flowers and small shrubs in the gardens and then using shovels to dig holes in the earth, place the plants in and return the dirt around them.

“We’re trying to get some great color in here,” said an amiable man who appeared to be orchestrating the planting. “The other thing is, we’re trying to beat the rain.”

It turns out he was Steven Jones, owner of Fieldstone Gardens, a plant nursery in Vassalboro. He and his employees, Jillian Carey and Dwayne Kuse, were beautifying the gardens at the park for the Waterville Rotary Club, which maintains them. The Rotary Club gave a $150,000 gift to the park in 2015 to celebrate the club’s centennial before the $1.5 million park opened five years ago.

Jones said Fieldstone workers over four or five days last fall volunteered in the park with planting, pruning and other work as part of his business’ commitment to community outreach.

“Community supports you, you support them too,” he said.


As rain threatened, Jones, Carey and Kuse worked quickly to plant colorful yellow and white daffodils, grape hyacinth, dwarf forsythia, Spanish bluebells, squill, small magnolia trees and other flowers and plants.

“We’re putting in spring bulbs that will repeat, year after year,” Jones said.

Kuse used a spade to dig perfect holes in the earth, then placed a pot of yellow daffodils in those holes, collected the dirt and pressed it around the stems, all with bare hands.

“God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt,” he quipped.

Kuse, 53, said he has been doing this work for 35 years, after learning at 18 everything he needed to know from the owner of a nursery in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He loves it, still.

“Keeps me in shape,” he said.


As the gardens began to pop with all the new color, passersby began to notice.

Jain Tapley, a retired social worker walking with her tiny black dog Romeo, said the transformation was lovely.

“I come here every day, two or three times a day,” she said. “It’s a nice park. People are friendly. So many people love this park because all the people are nice who come here.”

I got to talking with Jones about Fieldstone, which he started 39 years ago in Vassalboro. While growing up there, his father grew vegetables and had a large tree farm that Jones still maintains. Along with the nursery, there are some 80,000 trees, including red pine, on about 300 acres. Jones developed a love for horticulture early in life and later studied it at the University of Maine.

“It was one of those things where I knew what I wanted, right from the gate,” he said.

The business many years ago was named Outstanding Maine Tree Farmer and Outstanding New England Tree Farmer. Fieldstone grows and sells plants including vegetable seedlings, annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, catering to people within a 25-mile radius, but it also does mail orders, selling perennials around the country and internationally.

Jones, 61, said he enjoys the work, even after all these years. Every day is different, and there’s no time to be bored. The activity is good for the environment and gives one a sense of accomplishment, according to Jones.

“You see the results and they come quickly,” he said. “As time goes on you see progress and maturity and change. It’s rewarding. You can go out and garden and feed yourself, and of course the ornamental part of it — the aesthetics —  is huge.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She is the author of the book “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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