Towson will celebrate gardens, raise money

Annual event aims to help beautify the community


With peppermint sticks and lemons, azaleas and a secret garden, the annual Towson Gardens Day marks the greening and blossoming of Towson. But the festival, scheduled today, is also about a different kind of green: money.

The dollars raised by the event are put back into the community to beautify Towson.

In some cases, the effort is as simple as planting trees near large intersections or outside prominent businesses. Where the money goes depends on who asks for it.

"Each year, new projects are submitted to us by way of members of the committee or neighborhood associations," event publicist Sandra Brittain said. She added that where the donations go from money raised by this year's event will be determined later.

Coordinator Dorrie Wilfong said that although Towson Gardens Day doesn't raise a large amount of money -- she estimated last year's total at $1,500 -- the group finds ways to put the money to good use.

The Towson Gardens Day committee usually focuses on helping with school projects. From last year's donations, Lutherville Laboratory elementary school received a bird bath and Towson High School received topsoil and two wheelbarrows. In the past, the Forbush School has received money for books and materials to develop a plan for growing and selling underwater plants.

Towson Gardens Day also was among the donors for a reading garden at Towson Library. Money raised from the event was given to the library two years in a row.

"In the mid-'90s, we decided we needed something to make the building reflect how successful the service is on the inside," said Beth Babikow, coordinator of facilities services for the library. "A lot of volunteers' effort is still put in. ... [The garden] was quite an eyesore at one time."

Money from a previous year's Gardens Day also went toward a garden at York Road and Towsontown Boulevard. The garden is a memorial for Marge Crook, Towson Gardens Day's first chairwoman.

The 20th annual event, sponsored by the local district of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the heart of Towson, at the Courthouse Fountain Plaza, and on Pennsylvania and Baltimore avenues.

Vendors selling food and homemade crafts will line the streets.

And it is the only day of the year that Robert Evans opens his walled garden at Baltimore and Pennsylvania avenues to the public.

"It was a tradition established by the prior owner," Evans said. "It's a unique architectural piece of property. People drive by and wonder what's inside. Finally you get a chance to see the secret garden."

Evans usually welcomes 500 to 700 people into his garden. For $1 a head, visitors view the lush grass, concrete flower pots holding bright pink flowers and a reflection pool with two fountains.

Area gardeners are recognized for their efforts. And an award goes to the Towson-area house with the best azalea display.

"We want to celebrate," said Wilfong. "It's spring."

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