GWA members gather to begin their tour of the Ladew Topiary Gadens
by Teri Speight
Every time I think about the Hunt Country Gardens and Growers Tour, which served as the Region II Education meeting, I cannot help but smile. We started the morning off at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland. Kirk Brown did a terrific job of getting us excited about upcoming GWA events. After he finished Proven Winners treated us to some fabulous plant offerings, just the beginning of a truly memorable day.
Kirk then introduced us to Barbara Barnoff, Director of Visitor Services and Volunteers at Ladew. She shared with us recent changes and exciting plans for the Butterfly House and the Meadow slated for this season. This was definitely something that was of interest to the group. We were anxious to begin our guided tour.
After a continental breakfast, we were off and running on a guided tour of Ladew Topiary Gardens. Our first stop, of course, was the garden containing the topiary figures of The Hunt. Our tour guide told us a little of the history, including how one of the topiary dogs was crushed by a visitor sitting on it!
Meandering through the twisting and turning pathways that allow you to go deeper into the world of the topiary garden rooms created by Mr. Ladew was quite a treat. It is not just
about the topiary. It is about combinations of color, texture, and cultivars. As we walked our guides explained the process of replacing plant material when it is diseased, old, or dead. Most of the garden is on a three-year maintenance schedule. Topiaries are only replanted if necessary. Quite a job, but I am sure an enjoyable one working around the beauty in every nook along the pathway. The Meadow, featuring Metal Art from a local metalsmith, Matthew Harris, was just waking up to greet the larger than life pieces installed throughout. So intriguing, a revisit is certainly on my summer agenda. Mr. Ladew’s topiary creations are definitely, a must see. This was my fifth time, but I never tire of witnessing his vision. If you have not been to Ladew you do not know what you are missing!
Our next stop was Manor Farm, where we were treated to a unique tour via hayride. Two tractors with beds full of eager GWA members rolled over hill and dale as we received a wealth of information from our guide, Alan Jones. As we stopped at the three ponds that water the awesome trees and nursery stock found at Manor View Farms, Alan shared some details about the plants that they are experimenting with in their greenhouses, like a variegated fringe tree. Leaf lover that I am, I can’t wait for one of these to hit the market. We ended our visit with lunch served of delicious sandwiches, drinks and cookies. This pause allowed us time to network with fellow Garden Communicators.
After lunch, we proceeded to Cavano’s Perennials where we were met by our hosts, Ferenc Kiss, President and Taylor Pilker, Vice President. We listened as they shared their story of how Cavano’s came about. They also shared the story of how the new rain garden in front of the office was created. It had just begun to grow and bloom.
After some light shopping, much to our delight, Ference spoiled us even more with a gift of herb flats for each of us. That was certainly an unexpected treat – thank you, Cavano’s!
We ended the day at Liberatore’s where we enjoyed some awesome Italian dining. With days like this, I can only imagine what September in Atlanta will be! GWA….what a joy to be a part of it all!
Meet the Author
For Teresa Speight, better known as Teri, engaging with nature through gardening is a large part of who she is. She has been an Estate Landscape Gardener, Master Gardener, and Senior Gardener for The City of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Today she contributes to Washington Gardener Magazine and Garden Communicator and blogs at Cottage in the Court. Teri is also curator of “The Pollination Project” in District Heights, Maryland, where she strives to educate the community on the benefits of gardening.