Penbrook Park

“I had a dream. Crazy dream.
Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go

Hear my song. People won’t you listen now? Sing along.
You don’t know what you’re missing now.
Any little song that you know
Everything that’s small has to grow.
And it has to grow!”

Martin Luther King had a dream.  Led Zepplin had a dream.  Dream a little dream now with The Buckthorn Man.  I’m in a peaceful village set among ridges and kettles, dotted with oaks and splashed with wetlands.  A river runs through it and the people care deeply for the land.  Flowers, grasses, ferns and sedges grow in wild profusion covering the wet meadows and hillside prairies.  Creatures of every kind share our neighborhood and entertain us with their little songs.  Well-trodden trails take us to special places that feel like home.

The Village of Hartland 1937

The Village of Hartland 1937

My Hartland Marsh dream is slowly becoming a reality.  With a little help from my friends, I’m cutting the buckthorn thicket that was choking my imagination.  First it was the Ice Age Trail Alliance property at The Marsh, then the Waukesha County Land Conservancy land — the old Parker Brothers Homested that Marlin Johnson help them acquire, then the Village land around the Cottonwood Wayside and more Ice Age Trail land at the Aldo Leopold lookout on Maple Avenue (where others, notably the IATA and the Rotary club, had already done most of the work).  The trail took a jog north on Maple Avenue and I found myself at the entrance to Penbrook Park, possibly some of the prettiest landscape in the area — under siege from buckthorn and surrounded on all sides by development.

My dream to rehabilitate the land and foster healthy ecosystems in the primary environmental corridor from Hwy 83 all the way to the east side of Penbrook Park was put on hold for a few years back in 2011, but now it’s Dream On.  Please join me at the Village of Hartland Board meeting on Monday, January 25, 7:00pm at 210 Cottonwood Avenue, where I will be making the case for the Village to take a leadership role in restoring the ecosystems in the primary environmental corridor in the Village starting with Penbrook Park (click to check out my presentation — Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035).

The gallery below documents the changes at Penbrook Park from 1941 to 2015, as the buckthorn moved in to dominate the understory of the uplands and encroach into the the wetlands.

I’m going to go out on a buckthorn limb and declare that Penbrook Park is in a world of hurt.  The understory that has filled in since 1941 is predominately buckthorn and it is steadily encroaching on the wetlands in the center of the park.  Last Tuesday Pati and I took a tour and I want to show you what I’m talking about.  Bear with me, there are a lot of pictures here.  The map below shows the route we walked marked by the yellow trail and the numbers will correlate to the photo galleries that follow.


Just west of the play ground in the park “proper” there is a beautiful vernal pond completely encircled with buckthorn, honeysuckle and box elder, #6 on the map.

There are many, many excellent trees in the park. I wonder if they are all counted as “Park Trees” (see my presentation — Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035 for the reference to “Park Trees”).

Pati and I love exploring new areas. We finally made it down to the wetland.

I think you get the idea. The landscape is varied with ridges, steep slopes, vernal ponds, open wetlands and kettle style bowls or depressions. There are many, many excellent oak and hickory trees in the park but the understory is totally dominated with buckthorn and honeysuckle. My dream is to see the ecosystem in this primary environmental corridor restored to health. I would also like to see the trail system expanded in Penbrook Park by the addition of the two segments marked in blue below. The lower loop takes you to an overlook over the kettle that is right off of Maple Avenue, then it would swing down to the vernal pond and connect up at the play ground. The other new blue loop would follow the high ground on the east side of the park and then take you down into the wetlands and then back through some beautiful oak uplands to the play ground (existing trails are marked in yellow).


I’m dreaming and imagining and working to make it come true. Become a Friend of the Hartland Marsh and join me!

See you at The Springs!

One thought on “Penbrook Park

  1. Pingback: Hartland’s TIF District Shell Game | I Am The Buckthorn Man

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