Couple's garden is perennial favorite Park's tranquillity draws volunteers 3 times a week ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS

August 04, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

When Downs Park in Pasadena was being built 10 years ago, the Bagleys were right there with shovels in hand, ready to dig up and revitalize an aged garden.

Paul and Faith Bagley wanted to do their part to make the park a success because Mr. Bagley, 66, said, "We needed a focal point in Pasadena, somewhere everyone could get together."

That's why the couple continues to fill a portion of that same plot, named "Mother's Garden," year after year with an abundance of perennial phlox, hostas, azaleas -- and plenty of love.

The garden was created in 1915 and dedicated to Helen Hopkins Thom, wife of H. R. Mayo Thom, owner of the property.

But the Thom family moved away and the garden was ignored until 1982, when park supporters came to the rescue.

"We were so happy to have a park so close by," said Mrs. Bagley, 63, a retired teacher from Bodkin Elementary in Pasadena. "We felt it was important to help out as much as we could."

The couple, two of the first Downs Park volunteers, are part of an effort that has attracted about 150 seniors.

In January, the Bagleys were awarded the "Volunteer of the Year" plaque for their dedication to preserving and beautifying the waterfront park.

"We're just a little part of the entire volunteer network," Mrs. Bagley said. "It's really the whole community coming together for one common purpose. People from all walks of life are here -- from the young to the old."

Mrs. Bagley is also part of the Downs Park Quilting Group, a contingent of 30 women that spends many hours crafting quilts that are auctioned to benefit the park. Each year, the quilters raise at least $1,000 for the park.

In addition to keeping up their 25-square-foot plot of Mother's Garden, the Bagleys are honorary members of the group Friends of Downs Park, which oversees all fund-raising efforts in the park.

"The park is a big part of our lives," Mrs. Bagley said.

The Bagley team has been awarded two other plaques since 1982: The Gardener of the Year Award was granted to the couple in 1985 for their constant supervision of Mother's Garden, and in 1988 they received the Golden Trowel Award, also for their efforts in the garden.

Last year, Mr. Bagley, a retired counselor from Northeast High School and a musician, offered to bring his tuba-playing ensemble to the park. The group was a big hit and will return this year.

He also insisted on dedicating Mother's Garden to the man responsible for its revitalization. A plaque at the edge of the garden reads: "Dedicated to Ranger Dave Dionne."

"Because we have our names in front of each of our plots, I felt it was only appropriate to thank the man responsible for the creation of the entire garden," Mr. Bagley said.

The Bagleys say it's the tranquillity of the old woods on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay that keeps calling them back to the park, sometimes three times a week.

"Much of the property around here is privately owned, but this is all our own," Mrs. Bagley said. "You've got to be here to un

derstand why it's so special and why it's so unique."

The 230-acre park is filled with century-old trees, an amphitheater, a large playground and campground.

The Bagleys plan to be part of the effort to raise money for a larger visitors center.

Eileen Smith, former volunteer coordinator at Downs, said the Bagleys have "always been here for us. They're the ones we call all the time because they do just about anything.

"They're well-rounded volunteers and kind people," Ms. Smith added.

But the Bagleys shy away from hearty compliments, Mrs. Bagley saying instead, "There are so many people involved. There's so much community support for the park that it amazes me. We consider it our park."

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