Bloom time

UP FRONT

Spring: The House and Garden Pilgrimage is only one of the many showcases of the season.

April 15, 1999|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Sun Staff

Nothing says winter is really, really over better than the sight and scent of daffodils, geraniums, daisies, petunias and ever-hardy marigolds.

Maybe spring is discovering a beautiful new flower to grace your garden. Or maybe spring means the annual trip to the store to purchase potted plants for displaying on decks, balconies and patios.

However you cut it, flowers and plants add a lot to our lives, particularly during this time of year, as we shake off the winter blues. This is the season to check out what is out there, see how others are decorating with flowers, choose how to plant your garden or decide on a landscape design.

One of the many ways to do that is to take a stroll through the Cylburn Arboretum. It's a 175-acre park in Baltimore where some plants are already in bloom.

"The daffodils are in bloom along with the forsythia, along with the magnolia trees and the ornamental cherry trees," says William Stine, the chief horticulturist for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. "Other things will be coming, like the tulips."

You'll see these plants in bloom throughout the area, with more coming out every week.

Stine and his staff are also in charge of the Conservatory at Druid Hill Park. The Conservatory is a place to soak up nature and greenery no matter what the weather is doing outside. It consists of four greenhouses as well as an outdoor garden.

In Annapolis, there is the William Paca House and Garden, which has two acres of formal gardens, a pond, vegetable and wilderness gardens and a summerhouse. Currently, there are some tulips in bloom along with periwinkle, bluebells, daffodils and many more.

The William Paca Garden will hold its annual spring plant sale on May 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and May 16 from noon to 4 p.m.

For a wide range of garden viewing throughout the state, join the 62nd-annual Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, which kicks off this weekend and continues through May 12. It is a statewide event that showcases historical houses and gardens.

"We have been doing this for 62 years, but it takes a great deal of effort and planning for people from all over the state," says Margaret Powell, executive director of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. "We start as much as two or three years ahead."

The first stop this year is in Anne Arundel County, followed by the Guilford area in Baltimore. Other homes and gardens included in this year's pilgrimage are in Kent, Worcester, Baltimore, Calvert and Carroll counties.

Each year, the pilgrimage travels to different counties, Powell says. "We try to keep a schedule on when they were last on the pilgrimage," she says of individual counties. "In the Baltimore metro area, we try to have a tour in various parts of the city -- Guilford, Roland Park, Federal Hill, Bolton Hill. And we have various parts of Baltimore County."

Occasionally, there will be houses or gardens on the tour that you may have seen in a previous year. "But there are always some new things on the tour," Powell says.

Each tour is individualized to fit the region. For instance, in Anne Arundel County, there will be a tour of 14 houses and gardens.

In Baltimore, the tour will be of 15 houses and gardens -- including Sherwood Gardens -- in the Guilford area. Calvert County will feature 11 sites.

The pilgrimage serves a good cause, Powell says.

"Our purpose is to raise money for historical or architectural properties throughout the state and to educate," she says. "But we are not a decorator show house. We hope to educate the general public to the various treasures this state has, many which are held in private ownership. This is the only way people can know about the wonderful houses and gardens all over the state."

If making all of the days is impossible, one can purchase a ticket for a single-day tour.

Another seasonal ritual is the 13th annual Rites of Spring Garden Show, a Union Memorial Hospital benefit. The theme for this year's garden show, at the Timonium State Fairgrounds, is "Enjoying the Magnificent Outdoors."

About 5,000 people attend the garden show.

"We do it because it is Union Memorial Hospital's largest fund-raiser, and all proceeds go to patient care," says Sandra Monaco-Burton, associate director of the Union Memorial Hospital Foundation.

For the public, the garden show is a way to herald the spring.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for people to put winter behind them," she says. "It's a good time for them to catch a glimpse of spring and see new things for the garden.

"Since getting outside and enjoying yourself is this year's theme, there's something for those who have no green thumbs. We have sports-related activities such as fly-fishing and golfing."

Perhaps you have always wanted to grow your own food -- or at least a portion of it -- but just didn't know where to get started. There will be chefs at the show who will be giving tips on "cooking from the garden."

One of those chefs is Manuel Martinez at Beachtree Golf Club in Aberdeen.

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