HUNDREDS OF the volunteer Friends of Union Memorial Hospital are staging the Rites of Spring, a garden show and sale, this weekend in the 4-H building at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Proceeds will benefit the hospital's outpatient physical therapy services.
Open Friday through Sunday, this fifth annual spring sale will feature exhibits and demonstrations by exhibitors and artists from all over the eastern seaboard. Local garden clubs will have a flower arrangement competition and a raffle drawing for a cash prize. There will also be door prizes.
Visitors can see and purchase unusual plants, perennials, bulbs, garden and outdoor entertainment items and things for home decorating. One interesting demonstration, to be held at various times daily, will be cooking with herbs and edible flowers.
Begun in 1987 by five of the hospital's volunteers (Margery Clark, Charlton McLean, Nan Paternotte, Nancy Swindell and Kitty Washburne) with some 300 other volunteers, the first Rites of Spring opened with 25 exhibitors and three display gardens.
This year, seven gardens and 40 national and local exhibitors will be featured.
For three years, volunteers Harriet Toadvine and Peggy Schapiro have taken on the job of organizing the exhibitors. Both are modest about the work they do, always citing the accomplishments of others rather than their own.
Their job begins months in advance. ''There is fun in traveling around the area, going to other shows in other cities, seeking out exhibitors, finding those who will be right for our show and then seeing if they will come to us. Getting the right balance is like a jigsaw puzzle, a variety of pieces that fit,'' says Toadvine, who has volunteered for one cause or another for 32 years because, she says, she never needed to have a job.
She has been active in Junior League programs and now volunteers to the Maryland Historical Society and is a member of the Guilford Garden Club. She and her husband, Steve, a director of the computer company MicroProse, live in Baltimore County. They have two grown children.
Peggy Schapiro and her husband, Benjamin, also live in Baltimore County and have five children. He is a partner with Alex Brown & Sons. She, like Toadvine, gives much time volunteering. She helps with fund-raisers for the Children's Services of Central Maryland and is active with the Friends of Modern Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
These two are also on the Rites of Spring steering committee with Gery Clark and Anne London. Krystin Martin is special events coordinator.
Rites of Spring opens daily at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
Admission daily is $4 general; $3 seniors and free for children 12 and under. Lunch is available each day from noon to 2 p.m., and snacks will be sold throughout the day. For details, call 554-2662. On Thursday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. prior to the Friday opening, a preview party will be held in the 4-H Building.
Tickets may be purchased at the door if any are available or in advance by calling 554-2662. Cost is $75 per person with $45 of that tax deductible.