Arboretum teaches visitors about Howard park's trees

New plaques part of effort to revive community area

April 25, 2004|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Jim Rose gave a tree tour as he walked the perimeter of Harwood Neighborhood Park in Elkridge.

On the blackgum: "A woodland tree in Maryland that grows all over the place."

On the silver maple: "Not a great tree, it grows too fast and drops limbs."

The park is the site of Rose's "arboretum without walls," a project that he developed to identify and describe trees. He figures that if people know more about their environment, they'll take more of an interest in what happens to it.

"We take existing trees and put tags and labels on them, so people walking in the park can begin to become more aware of what kinds of trees are there," said the retired computer scientist, who's designed four other arboretums at county parks.

At the Harwood Neighborhood Park, plaques were placed in front of 17 trees. Each one states the tree's Latin and common names, describes the tree and includes a likeness of its leaf pattern.

Rose, a member of Howard County's Forest Conservancy District Board, devised the arboretum concept about five years ago, after an unsuccessful birding expedition.

"One day I was walking through the woods, and there weren't any birds, but there were all these trees," he said. "I think most people don't know about trees and their names, and I didn't know their names either."

Rose wrote the tree descriptions. But the idea for Harwood Park's arboretum was proposed by Betsy McMillion, president of the Harwood Park Neighborhood Improvement Association and a member of the forest board.

Tucked off Woodburn Avenue, the Harwood Neighborhood Park opened in 1982. Neighbors said the work of vandals over the years kept children away.

Over the past five years, McMillion said she's made the park a priority of the improvement association.

The arboretum was dedicated this month at a ceremony attended by Rose, McMillion and county officials.

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