Gardens backed as center for tourists, education Restore Greenway, horticulturist says

June 06, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Greenway Gardens, an arboretum at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, should be a county tourist attraction and educational center, said a Westminster horticulturist leading a campaign to restore the gardens.

"Greenway Gardens is a Carroll County treasure," said Steve Bogash, former owner of Greener Horizons, a Westminster garden center and now a teacher at Carroll Community College and the Cooperative Extension Service.

The state Board of Public Works voted last fall to buy the 27-acre tract for $450,000 from Zeeger and Dorothy Lee "Dottie" deWilde. The couple owned the land for 17 years and had created the gardens.

The gardens are now part of Morgan Run, a 1,300-acre state park in South Carroll. They have fallen into disrepair since they were closed to the public about three years ago.

Mr. Bogash wants to start Friends of Greenway Gardens, a volunteer group, to raise money because the state and county cannot afford to restore the gardens and greenhouses.

"All we have to do is put the place back together again," he said.

Interested gardeners and volunteers are invited to an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. June 15 at the Agriculture Center in Westminster, he said.

"The purpose of the meeting is to generate community support. I'd like to pack the room," Mr. Bogash said.

County officials are negotiating to lease the gardens from the state, said Tom Ford, an agriculture adviser at the Cooperative Extension Service. The extension service then would like to sublet some of the facilities from the county for educational programs, he said.

The county does not expect the gardens to be open to the public in the next couple of years, said Richard J. Soisson, director of the county Recreation and Parks Department.

More likely, the gardens will be used for educational programs offered by the community college and extension service, he said. Sports and environmental groups also are interested in meeting there.

A county staff member is expected to begin living at Greenway Gardens as a caretaker at the end of this month after the deWildes leave their home there, Mr Soisson said.

Mr. Bogash said he wants Greenway Gardens to be open to the public and has asked the county to consider subleasing the area to the Friends of Greenway Gardens.

He wants the gardens to be "a local Longwood Gardens," a reference to the public gardens outside Philadelphia. The gardens should be a place where people can get landscape ideas or just enjoy the flowers and trees, he said. He would like to start demonstration plots to show people how to compost, mulch and grow flowers, he said.

If fund-raising efforts are successful, the gardens could open to the public next fall, Mr. Bogash said. He estimated it would cost $150,000 to $200,000 a year to operate the gardens with three employees.

He foresees charging admission to Greenway Gardens and selling memberships, which might cost $20 to $25 a year for an individual. He said he also would like to apply for state and federal research grants.

For information, call Mr. Ford at 848-4611.

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