`Secret gardens' to open to visitors

Baltimore communities offer tours today

June 05, 1999|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Today, you can peer into a Reservoir Hill garden with a handmade playhouse with stained-glass windows. Tomorrow, you can climb a spiral staircase to a roof vegetable garden or behold a turquoise pergola with climbing roses in Charles Village.

And look out for the elephant.

Ordinarily, it's not polite to parade through strangers' gates and gardens, but it's the thing to do this weekend, when annual garden tours will be given throughout the city.

"People have no idea," said Val Kuciauskas, a Charles Village garden walk organizer, "what goes on in gardens in the city."

"Secret gardens" tours are taking place in the Charles Village, Reservoir Hill and Mount Royal neighborhoods. Several historic houses and museums also are open to celebrate the beauty of spring and early summer blooms.

"Everybody had the same thought at the same time," said Beth Miller, the assistant director of the Flag House, one of four stops on the first Baltimore in Bloom tour of historic houses and gardens. The event begins at 11 a.m. today.

Charles Village will have plenty of surprises in store as it celebrates its 20th annual garden tour tomorrow afternoon. A trolley will take visitors to 31 stops, including a city school community garden and Libby Pennachia's aromatic herb garden. Tickets are $6.

Others might prefer to walk. Hard to miss on Reservoir Hill's streets will be an 8-foot-tall mud, metal and wood elephant that sculptor Jack Scott plans to create during that community's four-hour garden festival, which begins at 11 a.m. today and costs $8.

Besides the elephant, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's ribbon-cutting and a most-beautiful-garden contest, the event will feature "the quirky little gardens of quirky big people," said Glenda Gentner, Reservoir Hill tour organizer.

On the Reservoir Hill walk, the Rev. Marion Bascom and his wife, Dorothy, will show the eggplant, garlic and zucchini they are growing, along with her favorite flower, snapdragons, and his, purple foxgloves.

"Last year, we must have had a hundred visitors, and we get a chance to talk with them about their gardens," said Dorothy Bascom. "It's a delightful time."

The tours provide a chance for the private to become public, for brief glimpses, urban socializing and inspiration.

"Everyone will be serving their favorite treats," said Gentner.

In keeping with the Victorian vintage of her Charles Village home, Peta N. Richkus grows old-fashioned roses, which set off the eye-catching pergola on her deck.

"It's the welcome when you come in," she said. "It draws your eye."

Hundreds of visitors are expected, said Richkus, the state secretary of general services, who has long been active in the Charles Village event.

Downtown, under magnolias in full bloom, herbs and potpourri-making will be the focus of the Flag House's festivities. Today's Baltimore in Bloom tour also offers landscape design ideas amid the formal gardens at Evergreen House, a look at archaeologists excavating gardens at Mount Clare and three gardens in Union Square. Tickets cost $12, with shuttle bus service provided.

Miller, who helped coordinate the Baltimore in Bloom event, said the tours show a strong desire for cultivating "green space in the city."

Pub Date: 6/05/99

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