After 52 Years, Perryman Landscaper Still Thriving

Says Fall Is Perfect Time To Plant Trees And Shrubs

September 15, 1991|By Melanie Waddell | Melanie Waddell,Contributing writer

You'd have to love what you do to stick with the same job for 52 years, right?

True, says William Rothwell, owner of the Rothwell Nursery in Perryman. And the reasons he's stuck with the nursery businessfor that long are simple: He likes planting almost any type of tree or shrub and watching it bloom and grow.

While it's no surprise his favorite season is spring, for it is during those months that he sees best the fruits of his labor, fall isa fine time for planting, he says.

Rothwell says the fall is the best time for adding trees or shrubs to a landscape, for example.

"Fall is the perfect time to plant shade trees, shrubs and dogwood trees," he says. He also said fall is the best time to sow grass on lawns, be it for a new lawn or reseeding. And fall is the only time to plant tulips, notes Rothwell.

Another fall gardening tip from Rothwell: For those who have many trees in the yard, fall can be a time for endless hours of leaf raking, but he says the labor doesn't need tobe for just a clear yard. Grind the leaves up and use them for humus, advises the expert.

Rothwell's roots in gardening go back to hisboyhood, when he worked at his father's mushroom planting and compost business in Cecil County.

In 1949, he moved to Harford County and established his nursery business as a part-time trade while he worked as an electrician in the Ballistics Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground Exterior. He retired from APG in 1973 and turned to his nursery business full-time.

"I used to have four or five employees, including my sons, and even had some work-study kids from high schools working with me," he said. At age 72, he now works solo.

Throughout his career in the nursery trade, Rothwell's jobs have included landscape design for local homes, hospitals, schools and businesses.

His drew most of his work from area businesses that wanted to spruce up the look of their property. Landing work was competitive. He recalls showing up at job sites where more than one nursery crew would be working.

It's only been in the past several years that landscaping for homeowners has blossomed in Harford, he says. So for young nurserymen starting out in the county, the future looks good, predicts Rothwell.

Looking back, Rothwell is particularly proud of his landscape design for the grounds of Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, "and I still maintain that," he said.

"The main entrance, emergency entrance and staff entrance have a nice display of color all summer long because of the vinca flowers, marigolds, geraniums and impatiens that are planted there," said Rothwell.

Other jobs he's proud of include landscaping for Halls Crossroads School in Aberdeen and the County Banking & Trust branch in Havre de Grace.

But his pride and joy is a simple church garden.

"The most satisfactionI ever got out of a job was designing the garden around the grotto at St. Ignatius (Roman Catholic) Church in Hickory," says Rothwell. A bishop of the archdiocese and the pastor were present when the grottowas dedicated, he recalls.

His wife Virginia, his sons and some work-study students helped with the planting.

And Rothwell hasn't neglected his own yard over the years. In fact, it's a showcase of hislove of plants and trees.

His lawn is filled with many types of trees. And if anyone were to ask him what kind of trees grow in his yard, he not only could tell them the name of each, but he also could tell them when he planted it. Many flowers adorn the lawn, such as azaleas, impatiens and chrysanthemums.

Rothwell and his wife had thought about moving to a retirement home, but they decided against it --they'd miss too much the plants and trees they've nurtured over the years.

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