Charles 'Buzz' Marscheck, 76, 'garden architect'

September 30, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

The backyard gardens that Charles "Buzz" Marscheck created were as unique as the locations where he lived.

In the small courtyard of his Mount Vernon residence, he allowed flowing orange morning glories to creep up a garage wall to give the appearance of more space and to brighten the brick.

When he lived in Roland Park, where he had a larger garden, impatiens and marigolds lined both sides of a curved brick walkway to give the yard a "magical" look.

Mr. Marscheck, 76, died Saturday of emphysema at his North Baltimore apartment. While his most notable job was as an electronic engineer at the former Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, friends considered him more of a "garden architect."

"He made more friends through his gardens," said Gene Plunkett, a friend for more than 50 years. "Because of his gardens, people came and introduced themselves. He cultivated large number of friends that way."

Mr. Marscheck's gardens won several prestigious awards, including blue ribbons in 1962 and 1965 in the Women's Civic League garden contests, sponsored by The Evening Sun, for his Mount Vernon garden.

In 1984, his Roland Park garden was singled out from among 500 entries by the Beautiful Baltimore organization as best in show.

"He just enjoyed the outdoors and the earth," Mr. Plunkett said.

Mr. Marscheck never studied gardening or horticulture, and never worked for a nursery. His gardens were created through trial and error, and he planted flowers based on what would blend best in the surroundings.

Tall and lean, Mr. Marscheck often spent the day in his garden after he retired in the late 1960s. His gardens were a mix of color and aroma -- and the envy of neighbors.

"They had a way of brightening up the area," said Ruth Abraham, a neighbor of Mr. Marscheck when he lived in the first block of Read St. from 1958 to 1975. "He spent so much time out there that it was more than just a hobby."

During a 1984 interview in The Sun, Mr. Marscheck explained the thought that went into his gardens.

"My little piece of the world is patterned after the gardens of Europe," he said. "The secret of an easy maintenance garden is to keep plantings out of the center of the lawn so you don't have anything to trim around."

Each year, he planted 1,700 to 1,800 plants -- none store-bought; he started all as seeds under grow lights in his basement.

"He had three tiers just filled with plants," Mr. Plunkett said. "He started the seeds in December, depending on when they'd germinate."

A Baltimore native, Mr. Marscheck graduated from City College in the late 1930s and was in the Army from 1940 to 1943.

After his discharge, he became a bookkeeper for the Singer Sewing Machine Co. in Baltimore, and from 1948 until the late 1960s, he worked at Glenn L. Martin Co., which became Martin Marietta Corp., and now is Lockheed Martin Corp.

At Martin, Mr. Marscheck worked on the Gemini and other spacecraft.

He enjoyed traveling and visited European countries.

He planted his first garden at the Belair Road home where he lived from 1951 to 1958. He lived in Mount Vernon from 1958 to 1975 and in Roland Park until 1986. His apartment was in a high-rise.

All of the gardens were community showpieces. "They were a postcard snapshot," said Linda Freedman, who lived near his Roland Park home. "His yard was something you wanted to show off to other people."

A private service is planned.

Mr. Marscheck is survived by his stepmother, Anna Marscheck of Baltimore; and a half-brother, James Marscheck of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 9/30/98

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