This spring Maria Price looked at the wreaths she was making and decided to experiment.
They were big, beautiful circles made from a whole rainbow of colors in dried flowers and herbs -- just the thing for rooms full of rocking chairs and flowered chintzes, polished antiques and ruffled curtains. But that was the problem, she thought.
"Not everyone has a Colonial or country decor," she says. "People with a contemporary design or even a southwestern look would like something different from what most wreaths are made to look like."
So she and her staff at her Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm in Severn have begun making a series of wreaths with monochromatic color schemes, wreaths of white accented delicately with silver and gold, that will fit happily into a modern home.
This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Ms. Price will be bringing her wreaths -- both country and contemporary -- plus topiaries, live herb plants and plants with edible flowers to the fifth annual Rites of Spring, the garden exhibition and sale sponsored by the Union Memorial Hospital.
The show, held at the Maryland State Fair Grounds in Timonium, will feature seven major display gardens, lectures and demonstrations on garden topics, plus sales of plants, bulbs, crafts, artworks, gardening supplies, books and decorative accessories.
Among those who will be building large-scale display gardens are Foxborough Nursery, Keenan and Father Landscaping, Mark Haller and Associates, Maxalea Nurseries, Pinehurst Landscape, Envirens and Willow Crest Garden Center.
Several nurseries will be bringing live plant material for sale. Andre Viette Farm and Nursery of Fisherville, Va., and Cavano's Perennials of Kingsville will bring herbaceous perennials. Bundles of Bulbs of Owings Mills will have spring and summer flowering bulbs. Radebaugh's Florist and Greenhouse of Towson will have annuals and potted plants. Rose Hill Farm will bring their miniature roses. Stemmer House Ornamental Nurseries of Owings Mills will have estate-grown boxwood, bells, books and ornamental plants. African violets will be brought by the Violet Rainbow of Westminster.
Garden accessories will be sold at several booths and the offerings include handcrafted birdhouses and feeders, cast-iron garden furniture, antique garden accessories, garden tools, containers, garden furniture, ceramics, jungle gyms and other wooden toys, and decorative items with a botanical theme.
Local companies participating are Braeland Farms and Crafts of Cockeysville, Ellington and Plunkett of Kensington and Rockland Woodworks of Brooklandville.
There will also be a number of gift boutiques selling such things as stationery, antique wicker furniture, decorative accessories, table and bed linens, games, jewelry, hand-painted furniture and floor cloths, hand-smocked children's clothing, hand-made jackets and sweaters, gourmet foods, garden books, silk and dried floral arrangements, herbal products and needlepoint rugs.
Donna Grauel of Towson will exhibit her watercolors of flowers and plants. Margaret Beacham of Baltimore will show impressionistic watercolors, portraits and miniatures. And Walter Matia of McLean, Va., will bring his fountains and garden sculptures.
A series of lectures will be given. On Friday the talks include flower arranging, pruning, answers to horticultural questions, 11 and herbs and edible flowers for containers. On Saturday lectures will be given on innovative decorating with dried fruits, vegetables and flowers; cooking with herbs; edible flowers; and design secrets for large and small gardens. Bulbs, a walk through the gardens, and flowers in interior design will be the topics on Sunday.
Lunch will be on sale from noon to 2 p.m. and snacks are on sale throughout each day.
Proceeds of the event will help to support the expansion of the hospital's outpatient physical therapy programs.
There will be a preview party on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person ($45 tax deductible) and they may be purchased at the door.
The hours of the show and sale are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $4 per person, $3 for senior citizens. The Rites of Spring will be held in the 4-H/FFA Building at the Maryland State Fairgrounds on York Road in Timonium. Entrance is through the north gate.
For more information, call 554-2662.