Easter means egg hunts, baskets and a trip to Druid Hill conservatory

April 04, 2010|By Andrea K. Walker | andrea.walker@baltsun.com

It has become an Easter tradition for the Vernon family: church, brunch and a trip to the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens for photographs next to the spring flowers.

Brittany Vernon, 25, has pictures from her childhood when her mother, Elnora Vernon, would take her to the conservatory in Druid Hill Park, still dolled up in a frilly Easter dress. This year the Vernons took Brittany Vernon's son, 6-year-old Kobe Boston, continuing the tradition.

"He doesn't quite understand the tradition yet," Brittany Vernon, who lives in Woodlawn, said Sunday. "But he definitely remembers we've been here before."

Easter has become one of the busiest days of the year at the conservatory as people catch spring fever, said manager Kate Blom.

Visitors go to see the annual spring flower display, which features the latest blooms, including more than a dozen varieties of tulips, daisies, azaleas and daffodils. The conservatory planted 20,000 bulbs for this year's display, which runs through this coming SundayApril 11.

"People get in the mood for spring, and they want to come and see and smell the flowers," Blom said.

The 2010 display has a Wizard of Oz theme, including life-sized cutouts of Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow peeking from the flowers. Yellow bricks guide visitors through the conservatory, and a tornado made from tillandsia plants hangs from the ceiling.

Lisa and Glenn Roeca thought taking their two children to the gardens would be a different way to celebrate Easter and usher in spring. Their kids, 10-year-old Gillian and 6-year-old Aiden, learned about different flower species and that cactus could grow to a large size.

"This is one of the jewels in Baltimore that people sometimes forget to appreciate," said Lisa Roeca, who lives in Homeland and owns a marketing company with her husband.

Roger Carter goes to the conservatory with his wife and three children each Easter. His wife's grandfather worked in a Buffalo conservatory, so she is a big fan of flowers and greenery. Sunday, Carter's family took pictures in front of tulips.

"It's nice to get out and see all the beautiful flowers -- especially after a winter with so much snow," he said.

When Christopher Ensor, 30, was courting his wife, Laura, 25, he took her to the conservatory on dates. The visit became so special to her that she wanted to make it a permanent part of their lives. So now the Hampden couple take their son, James, 2, on Easter. Christopher Ensor's parents also came along for this year's trip.

The family sat on a bench looking at the flowers and plants, while James ran along a foot path among the palm plants.

"It's just so pretty here and smells so good," said Laura Ensor. "Who wouldn't want to be here today?"

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