Gardens thrive on steeplechase proceeds

April 14, 1995|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Sun Staff Writer

With yellow blooms of forsythias brushing spring's first color across its lawns, Ladew Topiary Gardens is preparing for tomorrow's 85th running of the My Lady's Manor steeplechase races.

Workers at Ladew, which opens to the public Sunday, were busy yesterday preparing a champagne reception it will hold after the My Lady's Manor races. Proceeds from the races are used to maintain the famed gardens. Organizers of the steeplechase are preparing for as many as 5,000 spectators tomorrow. Two 3-mile long horse races over timber fences are featured.

dTC Although the races do not yield a great deal of money for Ladew, the event "introduces a number of new people to Ladew," said H. Turney McKnight, chairman of the My Lady's Manor race committee and also a member of Ladew's board of trustees.

Tomorrow's races, part of Maryland's horse-breeding and fox-hunting tradition, make up the first leg of Maryland's triple crown of steeplechases. The two other events are the Grand National, to be held in Butler on April 22, and the Hunt Cup, scheduled for April 29 in Glyndon.

The gardens near Jarrettsville, created by the late Harvey S. Ladew, will receive an estimated $8,000 from the race, held at the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club a half-mile away. About $100,000 has been raised for Ladew in the 11 years it has been the beneficiary of race proceeds.

That money will be added to $450,000 in state aid approved for Ladew in the last session of the General Assembly. The state funds, part of Ladew's $2 million campaign for renovations and repairs, comes with a hitch: it must be matched by private donations. "It means a new lease on life for Ladew," Courtney J. McKeldin, Ladew's director of development, said yesterday.

The money, which will be available July 1, will help pay for a variety of projects in and around the 15 formal gardens that are visited by about 35,000 people each year. The funding is the first state aid Ladew has received. Some improvements will be made in parking facilities, irrigation and electrical service.

The funds will allow the foundation that runs Ladew to use more of its private donations to battle a tiny insect, the woolly adelgid, which is damaging some of the sculpted hemlock hedges that border Ladew's gardens.

The gardens, which have been open to the public since the late 1970s, cover 22 acres.

WEEKEND EVENTS

* The My Lady's Manor races begin at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow. Gates open at 1:30 p.m. The course is on Jarrettsville Pike (Route 146) at Pocock Road, north of Jacksonville. Parking fee: $25 per car. Call 557-9466 for information.

* Ladew Topiary Gardens open Sunday, through October. The gardens are on Jarrettsville Pike, south of its intersection with Fallston Road. Admission for house and gardens: $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, $2 for children 12 and younger; less to tour the gardens only. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 pm. Tuesday through Friday; noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. The gardens are closed Mondays. Call Ladew at 557-9466 for information.

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