Volunteers struggle to clean up arboretum Determined workers lack money

July 20, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Tom Ford spent Saturday morning hacking at a tangle of juniper that had taken over a planting at Greenway Gardens TC Environmental Center near Westminster.

"We might still have hope of finding the Buddha," he said.

Mr. Ford, an agriculture adviser at the Cooperative Extension Service, was not seeking spiritual enlightenment. He was merely trying to rescue some valuable cypress plants that had been overrun by the spreading juniper.

But he also was hoping that a statue of Buddha, which had also been overgrown after Greenway Gardens was closed three years ago, might be uncovered when the juniper was pruned.

Buddha could not be found, but other things turned up as 22 people turned out Saturday for the first volunteer workday sponsored by Friends of Greenway Gardens, or FOGG.

Greenway Gardens is a 27-acre arboretum along Morgan Run, on Nicodemus Road between Routes 32 and 97. The state bought it recently and leased it to Carroll County.

The arboretum operated as a private business for 18 years before it was closed three years ago.

About 18,000 people visited the gardens in its last year of operation, said Steve Bogash, horticulturist and founder of FOGG.

Since the park has been left unattended, grass and weeds have pushed through gazebo floors. Weeds and branches choke a pathway through a perennial collection. Parts of some greenhouses' frameworks sag ominously.

The park has developed a serious bagworm problem, Mr. Bogash said, and many plantings have been overgrown.

"The collection was going downhill rapidly," he said.

The workday represented a "serious Band-aid or tourniquet approach" to preserving the collection, he said.

Several horticulturists walked the property last Thursday, to establish priorities for the volunteers who came to prune, weed and mow.

Volunteer Barbara Mummert, of Finksburg, said Saturday she just picked an overgrown patch and started weeding. She said she had taken a landscape class from Mr. Bogash through the Carroll County Extension office, and, "I thought maybe I could learn something else while I'm out here working."

Members of Cub Scout Pack 150, Den 5, of Gamber, turned out to weed and carry trash as part of their work toward a World Conservation patch.

Lynn Haina, of Westminster, was on hand to record volunteers' names and hours, but soon put on gloves and started weeding.

"If somebody doesn't do something soon," she said, "we're going to lose it, and that would be a shame."

Mr. Bogash said the park is officially an environmental center, and includes natural areas. But he added, "It was an arboretum first, and it's going to stay an arboretum."

He said the gardens would eventually house demonstration projects on topics such as gardening with fewer chemical pesticides.

The grounds will include demonstration gardens where home gardeners can get ideas. For instance, he said, there might be a model townhouse garden and a model single-family home garden.

"We want this place to relate directly to people's home experiences," he said.

Mr. Bogash said the 53-member FOGG "has no treasury" at the moment.

He has estimated that the group must raise $150,000 to $200,000 to hire the staff necessary to open the gardens to the public.

FOGG representatives will meet with county recreation and parks director Richard J. Soisson to discuss organizing as a recreation council, he said. Recreation council status would provide an organizational framework for the group and give it access to liability insurance, he said.

Greenway Gardens is still a long way from being open to the public, Mr. Bogash said, although there may be an open day this year to introduce the public to the park's facilities.

Meanwhile, he said, the work will continue.

"An arboretum is never finished," Mr. Bogash said.

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