He came from nowhere. And then went back. Where the %#&@ is...Billy Squier

If you’ve seen a wiry middle-aged dude who looks like Billy Squier pruning trees in New York’s Central Park, guess what? It is Squier, who now spends most of his time whacking weeds as an amateur landscaper. (Among other projects, he got the blessing of NYC officials to tend to a chunk of the park.) ”I’m happier in a garden,” says Squier, the force behind ”Rock Me Tonite” and ”The Stroke” (no, kids, not the Strokes). ”Everything I do now is because I want to do it.”

The 52-year-old Squier — who earns enough from royalties and intermittent touring to do his gardening gratis — discovered an affinity for nature when he took up mountain climbing shortly after releasing 1984’s Signs of Life. Though he still scales the occasional peak, Squier’s nature jones is now mostly satisfied by his flora work. And while he does rock out once in a while — his most recent musical project was a 9/11 benefit DVD single called ”Sweet Release” — these days his biggest thrills come from wielding a real ax. ”Someone will come over in the park and say, ‘You’re doing a beautiful job,”’ he says. ”That’s like a hit record to me.”