Garden club ladies get hands dirty for public beauty


April 28, 1994|By MICHELLE HOFFMAN

The Silver Fancy Garden Club organized 40 years ago as a congregation of women, each respectful of nature's beauty through gardening.

A typical meeting consisted of tea, a tour through the host's garden and possibly some planting. The women wore dresses, heels, hats and proper white gloves all the while. With simple cut-flower arrangements made from gardens they planted, the ladies beautified public gathering spots in Emmitsburg and Taneytown, thus sharing their love of nature with the community.

As the advertisement says, you've come a long way, baby.

Today, the ladies prefer to get down and dirty in jeans, T-shirts and sneakers. The only flowers their informal caps display are occasional temporary day lilies, irises, or other favorites that they poke through the air vents.

They till the earth with pitchforks and knead the dirt with landscaping gloves caked with rich chocolate soil. They take their flower and tree planting seriously. A tender caress of each colorful bloom displays their pride, and the product is worth the investment.

What was rooted as a social gardening gathering of 16 members has bloomed into a party of 25 women who have taken on the environment.

Two years ago, the club organized a community-wide trip to sewer treatment plants in Emmitsburg and Taneytown to examine the impact of sewer systems on the environment.

They have cleared the banks of the Monocacy River, from the Harney bridge to Route 140, of debris and have revitalized the area by planting flower bulbs. Handmade bluebird houses, made by the Garden Club members, dot the landscape and provide refuge for wildlife.

The slave graveyard at Terra Rubra -- the home of Francis Scott Key -- and the Baptist graveyard on Emmitsburg Pike have been cleaned and rejuvenated.

Trees, surrounded by perennials, have been planted in memory of past club presidents at local parks, libraries and public areas for all to enjoy.

Monthly flower bouquets beautify the Taneytown library, as do periodic arrangements at the Emmitsburg library.

Potted flowers break up the monotony of the Taneytown square at Routes 140 and 194 with splashes of color against a gray and brick background.

Recycling is another concern. Yearly projects include active participation to "collect aluminum, tin cans, glass, plastic materials and newspapers, and take them to recycling centers," the club's manual states.

As their major yearly fund-raiser, the ladies make Christmas arrangements and wreaths to sell at local house tours during the season.

On a broader scale, the Silver Fancy Garden Club of Emmitsburg and Taneytown participates in the Save the Eagle Project, and studies bluebird habitat. Plans are being discussed with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a bird sanctuary.

The organization contributes to the World Gardening project, which is a group of individuals who provide seeds and manpower to beautify countries around the world, one country at a time.

Perhaps the most involved project to date is the club's participation in plans for a new roundabout to be placed at the intersection of Routes 832 and 140 in Taneytown within the next year.

Currently, the entrance to Route 140 is divided by a triangular island that was landscaped as the result of donations from local civic organizations. The Silver Fancy Garden Club, in conjunction with the State Highway Administration, planned the layout and supervised the planting.

The plants will stay where they are until construction of the roundabout begins at an unspecified date, when the flowers will be uprooted, stored and reused for the new display.

The roundabout is intended to control traffic patterns at the intersection, which is a high-accident area.

As busy as they are in environmental affairs, though, the Silver Fancy women still make time to do what the club was originally intended to do: work in their own gardens, listen to gardening experts at scheduled meetings and plan a yearly trip.

Federated in 1957, the Silver Fancy Garden Club is a member of District 5 of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland; The Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, Central Atlantic Region; The National Council of State Garden Clubs, and the Monocacy River Watershed Conservatory.


"The unsung hero of town," is what Dean Reindollar, wife of Mayor Henry I. Reindollar Jr., calls Robert Flickinger because of his volunteer efforts for the town.

Mr. Flickinger is chairman of the Taneytown Tree Committee. For the past three years, he has volunteered to plant flowers and trees in Taneytown Memorial Park, some for beautification and some in memory of community members past.

"I just love trees," he says.

Last fall, Mr. Flickinger helped to plant 1,000 daffodil, day lily and chrysanthemum bulbs at the park entrance.

"The entrance to the park was getting so raggedy and terrible looking," he said. "The shrubbery and the hedges weren't kept trimmed back far enough when they were young, and they just got out of hand. We [the committee] asked if we could take them out."

Although the city purchased the flowers, Mr. Flickinger did the planting "in my own free time."

Now, with each new bloom, the entrance will remain uniform and colorful throughout the summer months.

Trees were donated by private citizens and community organizations as memorials to loved ones. Many can be seen along the Route 140 perimeter of the park.

Mr. Flickinger welcomed the prospect of having some help.

"I'd like to get together with the children from either the middle school or the high school so they can work with me and get in their community service hours," he said.

Some students helped him recently around the baseball diamond, and he would like to see more participate.

The Roberts Mill Road park is Mr. Flickinger's next landscaping venture. The City of Taneytown will match a $1,000 grant it received from the state to beautify the area.

If you would like to donate a tree for either park as a memorial, or donate your time to help landscape, call Mr. Flickinger at 756-2245.

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