Decision nears on Sherwood Gardens

Loss of city funding imperils tulip planting

May 17, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Sherwood Gardens in Guilford, home of Baltimore's elegant spring tulip display, may go the way of the daffodil - or cultivate a much simpler look and feel.

Nothing is settled, but city dollars to help finance the planting of 77,000 tulip bulbs in Guilford every year are likely to be cut in the austere budget climate, city officials said.

Three Baltimore Recreation and Parks officials met with three Guilford Association leaders May 10 to explain the city cannot afford to contribute its usual $23,000 to the planting and upkeep of the public tulip garden Guilford shows off to thousands of visitors every spring.

The Guilford community raises the rest of the funds for the garden - about $70,000 every year, association officials said.

Connie A. Brown, associate director of recreation and parks, said Kimberley A. Flowers, the department director, would decide this week what the city would contribute to Sherwood Gardens.

"There are so many other competing priorities," Brown said. "As far as we know, this is the only private organization we've been funding."

Howard Friedel, the association president, said one adjustment the community might make is expanding its summer volunteer adopt-a-plot program to encompass the spring season. That would likely mean the flowerbeds would be less showy and formal. Other Guilford residents suggested daffodils might be mixed in with the tulips to lower the cost.

Decisions must be made soon because the order for tulip bulbs - which come from the Netherlands - is placed in June, Friedel said. The association orders new bulbs from overseas every year to ensure the thousands of tulips are tall, crisp and consistent in color.

Tim Armbruster, a Guilford Association board member who attended the May 10 meeting, said the garden's image as a picturesque gathering place came up in the discussion.

"We're certainly aware of the budgetary constraints, but think of it as an asset Baltimore has that makes it special and attractive to visitors," Armbruster said. "It would be a shame for Baltimore to lose that."

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