Class in ecological horticulture to use garden at historic house

September 13, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Starting tomorrow, students taking a horticulture course at Anne Arundel Community College will get a chance to find out how labor-intensive ecological gardening can be.

Their training ground will be a 1-acre garden on a historic property in Annapolis.

During the six-session course, "Gardening Using Ecological Principles," students will learn everything from how to use storm water in gardens to composting, planting waterway buffers and planting trees so they shade houses.

The point, said Anne Pearson, director of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities, is to teach people that "green" gardens can be efficient. Ms. Pearson came up with the idea for the course.

The training ground is the wooded garden of the Bordley-Randall house, an oasis off State Circle. The house, begun in 1715, and the grounds are owned by the Weems Dodds Limited Partnership.

Architect Joan Abel manages the property. She said students will learn to maintain a large garden as an ecosystem and have a chance to try to solve the problem caused by heavy rains that wash away topsoil.

"It's an opportunity for the students to exercise ecological principles in dealing with a piece of property," she said.

Much of the class will focus on using rainwater in gardens and on reducing urban storm-water runoff, which pollutes the Chesapeake Bay with silt, salts, pesticides and fertilizers.

The class also will help students learn how to prepare a contract based on varying seasonal work, Ms. Abel said.

Gustav Jackson, a hydrologist, and John Ehrlich, manager of West River Farm, an organic produce farm, will teach the course. Mr. Jackson has taught similar courses in Washington and Baltimore.

Ms. Pearson said she hopes students will consider entering the growing industry of lawn and garden businesses that use little or no packaged pesticides or herbicides. Several "green" landscape architects have agreed to consider hiring people who take the course, she said.

"We're going to work with the grads to develop this kind of lawn care business," she said.

Ms. Abel said that sensitivity to environmental issues seems to be increasing. For example, people want shade trees to reduce air-conditioner use, and they want gardens that do not require constant watering.

For course information, call Ms. Pearson at (410) 741-0125 or the community college at (410) 541-2325.

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