Discovery Garden began in 1998 as Karen Claton’s dream of a lasting memorial to her daughter Courtney, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in July 1997. The Clatons designated The Skills Foundation for all memorial contributions.
Several employees from Skills of Central PA, Inc. who had been especially close to Courtney approached the Clatons with the idea of using the memorial funds to create a small garden. The seed was planted for the creation of an accessible garden where people of all ages and abilities could come together to enjoy the beauty of nature.
A steering committee, made up of members of Hollidaysburg Area Women’s Club and Skills employees, oversaw the fundraising and development of the garden. Over a two-year period, the garden became a reality through grants, donations, and in-kind contributions. The Borough of Hollidaysburg provided land for the garden adjacent to the Playpark in Legion Memorial Park. Discovery Garden is a unique partnership among the Borough of Hollidaysburg, the Skills Foundation, and community volunteers. The garden was dedicated in September of 2000.
Discovery Garden has grown to encompass a series of seven theme gardens, a 25-foot horizontal sundial, and a wisteria covered entry arbor. It is also the cornerstone for Skills horticultural therapy program.
The dream is now a reality as children play in the “rabbit hole tunnel,” senior citizens stroll through the gardens, and individuals in wheelchairs discover the beauty and inspiration of nature. The garden has also become a setting for wedding ceremonies and photographs, birthday parties, prom photos and graduation portraits.
Discovery Garden has truly become part of the fabric and tradition of the Hollidaysburg community.