Andrew Nicholson Adams Jr., 71, ran Ten Oaks Nursery, landscaped Columbia

July 09, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Where others saw nothing but construction debris and detritus, Andrew Nicholson Adams Jr. envisioned nothing less than a tree-shrouded paradise and a rolling greensward.

Mr. Adams, a Howard County landscaper and nurseryman who was the longtime proprietor of Ten Oaks Nursery in Clarksville, died Sunday of cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 71.

Born in Olney in Montgomery County, a descendant of President John Adams, he grew up and lived his entire life on the 100-acre nursery whose name was derived from the 10 strong oaks that stood on the property.

He was attending the Westown Quaker School in Pennsylvania, when he was drafted into the Army Air Forces in 1944. Trained as a B-29 flight engineer in Texas, Mr. Adams never flew in combat and was discharged in 1945.

In 1946, he joined the family business that had been established by his parents, Andrew N. Adams Sr. and Roberta Adams, on their wedding day in 1925.

The business expanded from a roadside vendor of plants, vegetables and cut flowers to a commercial landscaper and grower whose clients included Howard Homes, Columbia Builders, Troutman Company, Pulte Homes and Laurel Racetrack.

Perhaps the largest single challenge of Mr. Adams' nearly 50-year career was the design and installation of the landscaping for the new city of Columbia, which the Rouse Co. developed during the mid-1960s.

It was a daunting proposition. Eventually Mr. Adams landscaped about 16,000 acres with 330,000 trees and shrubs.

"He was an integral part of the whole landscaping process in Columbia from the outset," said Carville M. Akehurst, friend for 50 years and executive secretary of the Maryland Nurserymen's Association.

"When you start from scratch, it isn't easy to look at fields and bTC piles of dirt and try to imagine something. It's always a challenge. But he had a concept that enhanced Mr. Rouse's concept and the fruit of his work is there today."

"The quality of his work was excellent," said John L. Troutman, CEO and president of the Troutman Company, a developer and builder.

"He'd go the extra mile for you making sure that you had the kinds of trees that would do well in the available soil. He really tried to give you the best landscaping bang for the buck that he could," he said.

Later, Ten Oaks Nursery became a subsidiary of the Rouse Co., where Mr. Adams was appointed vice president. He purchased the business back from Rouse in 1976 and operated it until closing it two years ago.

Like Johnny Appleseed, Mr. Adams left his mark wherever he went, surrounding thousands of Howard County homes with maples, hemlocks, evergreens, yews, junipers and azaleas that he carefully planted.

"He was highly respected as a planter and was well-known beyond Maryland," said Mr. Akehurst.

A rugged, stocky individual with a perpetually ruddy complexion and with a loquacious personality, Mr. Adams preferred being in the outdoors to sitting behind a desk.

"He loved dressing in his khaki pants and L.L. Bean shirts. He hated ties and suits," said his daughter, Connie Y. Comer of Gillette, Wyo.

He also maintained a lively interest in orchid growing and developing new azalea hybrids that had large blooms and would do well in the Middle Atlantic region. As a result of his work, he was able to introduce in the mid-1990s the Princess series of azaleas that won several awards.

Mr. Adams also earned his pilot's license and enjoyed flying and in later years soaring.

His professional memberships included the Maryland Nurserymen's Association, International Plant Propagator's Society, American Association of Nurserymen, American Horticulture Society, Mid-Atlantic Nurserymen's Association, Howard County Farm Bureau and Maryland Farm Burea.

He was also active in the civic life and community affairs in Howard County.

He was a charter member of the Howard County Vocational-Technical Advisory Board, a board member of Howard Community College, a charter member and former vice president of the Rotary Club of Columbia, charter member and former chief of the Fifth District Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the board of Sandy Spring National Bank.

He was Howard County's first Eagle Scout and he maintained a lifelong interest in scouting, serving as both scoutmaster and merit-badge counselor.

He was married in 1949 to the former Elizabeth "Bette" Goad, who died in 1989.

He was a member of Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, 2600 Marriottsville Road, Marriottsville, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today

Mr. Adams is survived by his wife of nine years, the former Ruth Whittemore Henkel; two sons, Danny J. Adams and Nick Adams, both of Clarksville; a brother, Thomas T. Adams of Easton; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 7/09/98

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