An idea takes flower Pick a plant: About 2,000 votes have been cast so far in the balloting for an official flower of Towson. The voting continues today at Towson Gardens Day.

April 25, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

The state flower, the black-eyed Susan, is out -- at least in Towson.

The Baltimore County town wants its own official flower.

What began as a gimmick to promote a decade of flower festivals in the county seat has become serious business.

Already, about 2,000 votes have been cast, at last month's Home and Garden Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds and at area garden shops.

Today, hundreds more ballots are likely to pour in, as residents and visitors to the 10th annual Towson Gardens Day get the opportunity to vote on which blossom receives the honor.

The choices are: azalea, daffodil, forsythia, iris and tulip.

And if Gardens Day chairwoman Marjorie Crook has her way, Towson soon will be covered with a colorful blanket of the winning flower.

"I hope people plant a profusion of them," the avid gardener says.

Some gardening enthusiasts wonder if having specially chosen flowers within localities could lead to confusion.

"How many can you remember?" says Nancy Eagan, director of District III of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland.

"It would be overdone to have too many floating around," she adds.

Barbara Warfield of the Garden Clubs agrees, but she adds that the state's black-eyed Susans often are difficult to find out of the summer season.

"They have to dye the centers of daisies for the Preakness," she points out.

Calvert County in Southern Maryland may be the only other state locality with its own flower, the mountain laurel.

The shrub with pinkish-white blooms is native to the area and used to illustrate informational brochures.

"We have great county pride," says Mabel Briscoe of Prince Frederick, another Federated Garden Clubs director who supports the concept.

"It's appropriate for Towson," adds Les Graef, a longtime coordinator of Towson Gardens Day. "Many places in the country, state and local, have their own flower or animal."

After much agonizing, the Gardens Day committee of the Towson Development Corp. -- a nonprofit community improvement association that sponsors the event -- winnowed the many possibilities.

The regal rose didn't get a single nod.

"It was not even up for vote," Mrs. Crook says, adding, "We wanted spring flowers to go with the spring festival."

She won't reveal her preference among the contenders, though.

"I like the dandelion," says the 76-year-old Cockeysville grandmother, partly serious. "They're so cheerful."

"People are filling [ballots] out and really enjoying filling them out," says Terri Conroy, a greenhouse worker at Watson's Garden Center in Lutherville, where ballots can be found.

There's another incentive, too.

When results are revealed in two weeks, a $100 prize will be awarded to someone picked from among the winning entries in a random drawing.

Votes can be cast from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at various locations at the Gardens Day festival, held in the plaza between the two county courthouses and along a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue.

A rain date is scheduled for tomorrow.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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