By Janet Mackey
Gardens Galore! 15 GWA members from Region 2 enjoyed a lovely September day with a tour of Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum, visits to 5 private gardens in the rolling hills northwest of the city, a shopping spree at Babikow Greenhouses (with a wholesale discount), and fellowship at dinner at a local restaurant. We were treated to beautifully designed and tended gardens featuring intimate spaces, sunny borders, woodland walks, and vistas overlooking acres of meadowlands. The day provided inspiration, garden design ideas, and new plants to consider (or purchase!) in addition to time to get to know some of our fellow Region 2 members better.
Cylburn Arboretum offers 200 acres of trees, gardens, trails, and an historic mansion in a Baltimore City park. Head Gardener Patricia Sherman highlighted the tropical collection, salvias, and dahlias planted around the mansion.
Penney and A.C. Hubbard, owners of Walnut Hill, and Kathy Hudson, author of On Walnut Hill: The Evolution of a Garden, talked about the
development of the two-acre property over the years guided by design and plant ideas of the late Kurt Bluemel. A steep slope was transformed into terraced gardens. Stone steps and trails led through the hillside woodland garden of perennials – including yellow wax bells (Kirengeshoma palmata) and white spikes of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) – and shrubs, understory trees, and stately mature trees.
Carol Macht’s nearby 3-acre property also featured terracing that created more useful spaces for perennial garden beds featuring many native plants, outdoor entertaining space, a swimming pool, and a beautiful view down grassy hills to the valley below.
Nell Strachan and Peter Ward’s multi-level home provided views into an amazing woodland garden that climbed down their steep hillside. A large paw paw tree (Asimina triloba) greeted visitors starting the decent; a nearby pathway, sided by a beautiful hedging of non-variegated Aucuba, provided a shiny deep green accent in the woods. An unusual Hearts-a-Bustin’ (Euonymous) bush still had a few scarlet and orange seedpods hanging from its branches.
The drive to the house at Longview provided views of recent stream restoration work and an orchard. The landscaping around the home included a series of terraces with gardens and a pool, a large fenced vegetable and cut-flower garden, raised beds with greens and berry bushes, and a unique arbor created by 2 espaliered apple trees bearing ripe red apples. Our group relaxed on the terrace for
lunch and learned about recent garden history in the Baltimore area from Nell Strachan, including innovations in residential gardens by renowned designers such as Kurt Bluemel and Wolfgang Oehme.
Marilyn Van Tosh and Bob Thompson’s property featured a terrace surrounding a pool that overlooks a large managed meadow beginning to show its autumn colors. The homeowners continue to develop much of the rest of the property as a woodland garden with large swaths of shade plants including coral bells (Heuchera), Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum), and turtleheads (Chelone glabra) in spots where sunshine broke through the leaf cover.
Generous sponsors increased our enjoyment of the day. Washington Gardener Magazine sponsored coffee and pastries to start our day. Cavano’s Perennials, Inc. sponsored our delicious boxed lunches. Bower and Branch, Garden Media Group, and member, Wendy Brister, provided door prizes for several lucky members, ranging from homemade garden-fresh Bloody Mary mix to hedge shears. Thank you to each of them from the participants.
We also send thanks to Kathy Jentz, GWA Region 2 National Director, for organizing the tour, to Cylburn Arboretum for hosting the early morning photo shoot, to the homeowners and garden designers who shared their gardens with us, to Penney Hubbard for copies of On Walnut Hill signed by author Kathy Hudson, and to Babikow Greenhouses for allowing us to shop after hours and receive a wholesale discount.
Meet the Author
Janet Mackey is a Master Gardener, writer, and speaker who loves seed starting, habitat gardening, and coaxing blossoms and foliar display from very shady spots. She is currently growing roots on the Eastern Shore of Maryland after a peripatetic career that included home gardens in upstate New York, Texas, the Washington, DC region, and northern California. Janet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.