One word or two, Flowermart still blossoms

Guilford Column

Guilford Column

May 24, 2011|By Beverly Quinones

One of the great pleasures of a Baltimore spring is the annual Flowermart, held every year in the shadow of the Washington Monument and surrounded by the parks and mansions of Mount Vernon Place. The name is a bit different (it used to be two words, Flower Mart), but many of the longtime traditions, like gaily decorated booths, ladies sporting flower bedecked hats (ala the royal wedding), foods, crafts, lemon sticks and, most importantly, the location, have been retained as part of the celebration.

The strains of "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" were running through my head as I donned my Flowermart hat on a picture-perfect May day. Carlos and I (once again invited and happy to serve as judges for the event's Booth Decorating Contest) arrived bright and early for orientation and coffee at Agora Publishing.

Carolyn Simmons and Sally Edgerton-Bell, breakfast chairwomen, welcomed us. Sipping coffee, we chatted with fellow judges before setting off for our booth judging.

As we left Agora, we said hi to our friend Ellen Sherwin, owner of the elegant residence next door, out in the sparkling sunlight, cheerfully planting colorful blooms in the ground-floor window boxes of her home. On our way up the hill to the monument, encircled by the booths we were to judge, we greeted Flowermart Executive Director Carol Purcell, attired in gold and black, the Mart's theme colors.

We were assigned to the schools section, which included Catholic High School (where girls twirled lacy parasols), St. Casimir's, St. Elizabeth's, St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, Institute of Notre Dame, and St. Philip Neri. It was great fun visiting with high-spirited students, energetic mothers and enthusiastic teachers, who had decorated the beautiful booths.

We were awestruck at the creativity and visual appeal. All the booths deserved top prizes. It is not easy being a judge of so much talent, but the Institute of Notre Dame display with girls in flowery dresses and hats serving tea, under the kindly smile of "Hildie," Hilda Marie Sutherland, a School Sister of Notre Dame, with a hat perched atop her veil, stole my heart.

The bloom-bedecked booth, which was decorated as a tea room, embodied the charm and traditions of the event. Sister Hildie, who was recently honored by the IND alumnae association for her 60 years of service, praised her young charges, saying, "They are lovely girls, beautiful inside and out!"

Carlos and I joined a festive group at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion on Mount Vernon Place for the annual spring meeting and luncheon of the Women's Auxiliary of The Engineers Club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Auxiliary President Beverly Kohlhepp welcomed us, and we were seated at a round table amid the gilding, brocade, chandeliers and artwork of the mansion's Louis XV drawing room.

Regretfully, there was a bittersweet tone to the occasion, which marks the end of an era for the auxiliary, whose members have voted to soon disband. Nevertheless, a gala atmosphere prevailed. On the program were speeches recognizing charter members and past presidents (with roses given to those present), and a lighthearted "History and Memories" reminiscence by Ginger Suchy.

A formal presentation was also made of of a magnificent mahogany breakfront, a final gift to the mansion, commissioned by the auxiliary and designed by architect Henry Johnson. He described the club in glowing terms, calling it "one of the great mansions of America."

'Tis the season for planting, and the recently formed Gardeners of Guilford are right on target. Barbara Morgan will host a Plant Exchange for all Gardeners of Guilford and friends on Thursday, June 2, at 6:30 pm. For information, email Barbara at

Don't forget the annual Tulip Dig on Saturday, May 28, 7 a.m., in Sherwood Gardens. Holland bulbs cost 30 cents each. Bring your own tools and bags.

Memorial Day, traditionally summer's kickoff, is next weekend. Happy vacation!

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