NOT LONG ago, my husband returned from one of his frequent bicycle rides with a question for me.
Thinking I might know the answer since I enjoy different kinds of gardens he asked, "What is a gallopoff garden?" This led to me asking him a lot of questions such as how is the word spelled and where did he hear about this. I had no idea what it was. He said that he passed a sign on a fence asking for volunteers who might be interested in working on the therapeutic Gallopoff Gardens.
I was intrigued, so I called for an appointment and visited the Windsor and Murphy Stables, located at Andover Farms on Andover Road. I met Colin Murphy and Jill Windsor who run their business on the 25-acre farm.
The couple said they had several reasons for wanting to develop the "Gallopoff Gardens" - a name they created by combining "gallop" and "off," appropriate for gardens on a horse farm.
Windsor said this is an opportunity for residents of a fairly built-up community to have a large, open-to-the-public garden in a farm setting close to them. The Windsor and Murphy Stables is a riding school that includes a therapeutic riding program for the disabled. Seventeen horses are on the farm, including several that are boarded.
People who come for the horses enjoy the rural setting, and the caretakers want to share it with more people - one reason for putting in the gardens. "It is like an oasis here. This is a nice farm, we want to make it better and open it up to more people," Windsor said.
Windsor and Murphy want the gardens to be available to everyone. There are plans for residents of nearby senior homes to enjoy the beauty of the gardens, and Windsor and Murphy are hoping that schools will bring groups of children.
Watching the horses fenced nearby can add to the enjoyment of the visit. Some might also find the diverse selection of trees on the property interesting. Windsor said a Baltimore-Washington International Airport park ranger labeled the trees for easy identification. The BWI Trail runs through the farm.
Windsor and Murphy took me to the space allocated for the garden and shared their plans for its design. It will be a garden for all tastes. The large area will be divided into smaller spaces and include raised beds, vegetable, flower, butterfly, rose, children's, scent and shade gardens. There also will be a water garden, a fountain and two arched trellises at the entrances. Paths throughout the garden will be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, and benches will be placed throughout.
The project started in early May with the help of a grant from the Severn River Association and Unity Gardens. Several parents of children enrolled in the therapeutic riding program volunteered to put in a vegetable garden. The children constructed a scarecrow, a life-size figure of a horseback rider complete with riding boots, hat, and jacket. It is the centerpiece of the vegetable garden.
In the past couple of weeks more work has been accomplished with the help of businesses and clubs. Murphy said Aggtrans/Stone Store in Hanover donated topsoil and gave him a good price on stone that he used to build the wall around the pond. The House of Tropicals in Glen Burnie donated plants for the water garden and the Crownsville Garden Club gave a gift certificate for plants. Murphy has two of the three raised beds built and they are filled with topsoil and plants.
The plan is starting to materialize, but there is much to do, and volunteers are needed. Murphy and Windsor said they would appreciate any amount of volunteer time and will set up a schedule for working on the garden. Half in jest, they said they hope to get so many volunteers that a volunteer coordinator will be needed. Besides manual assistance, Murphy said they are looking for more clean, garden-quality topsoil.
Windsor and Murphy are licensed to operate their business on property owned by Anne Arundel County. For many years, the facility was known in the community as Andover Equestrian Center.
For questions, to volunteer, or to contribute topsoil, call Murphy or Windsor at 410-684-2099 and leave a message.
Concert in the Park
The nationally known Zim Zemarel Orchestra returns to Linthicum's Concert in the Park series at 6 p.m. July 21. Sponsored by the Woman's Club of Linthicum Heights, the free concerts in Linthicum Park continue through Aug. 11.
Specializing in dance music, the Zim Zemaral Orchestra features the best of Broadway and the big band era as well as more recent hits from the 1950s through the 1990s.
Linthicum Park is on Benton Avenue off Route 170 in Linthicum (at the blinking light). In event of rain, the concert will be canceled. Bring chairs or a blanket. Picnics and coolers are welcome. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Donations are accepted.
Jo Barker and Charlotte Wheeler are co-chairwomen of the concert series.
A meeting for the Linthicum Community Fair will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Friendship Room at St. John Lutheran Church. The fair is scheduled for Sept. 28. Sept. 29 is the rain date. Information: 410-859-0621.