Me­lanie K. Edwards

For­mer Rux­ton res­i­dent and Gar­den Club of Amer­ica judge en­joyed shar­ing her love of horticulture

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fras­mussen@balt­sun.com

Me­lanie K. Edwards, an award-win­ning mas­ter gar­dener, Gar­den Club of Amer­ica judge and pot­ter, died Thurs­day of cancer at her home in Palm Desert, Calif. The for­mer Rux­ton res­i­dent was 73. The daugh­ter of Fran­cis Bien, a supervisor for the city Depart­ment of Parks and Recre­ation, and Lil­lian Bien, a home­maker, Me­lanie Kath­leen Bien was born in Bal­ti­more and raised near Pat­ter­son Park.

She was a 1960 grad­u­ate of Se­ton High School and at­tended what is now Loy­ola Univer­sity Mary­land.

In 1962, she met George D. Edwards II, a mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive, and they mar­ried the fol­low­ing year.

The cou­ple lived for years in Home­land, where they raised two daugh­ters, be­fore set­tling in 1990 on Roland­vue Av­enue in Rux­ton. Since 2012, she and her hus­band had lived in Palm Desert.

Mrs. Ed­ward’s in­ter­est in gar­den­ing be­gan when she lived in Home­land. She joined the Guil­ford Gar­den Club in1984, later serv­ing as its pres­i­dent.

As a mem­ber of the club, she par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral projects, in­clud­ing main­tain­ing the grounds of the Old Ot­ter­bein United Methodist Church at Sharp and Con­way streets; aid­ing land­scape projects with the Friends of Robert E. Lee Park; and help­ing main­tain na­tive plant teach­ing gar­dens at Friends School.

“I first met her when I joined the Guil­ford Gar­den Club in 1998, and the main thing she was con­nected with was or­ga­niz­ing work­days for the na­tive plant gar­den at the care­taker’s house in what was then Robert E. Lee Park, now Lake Roland,” said Kay McCon­nell of Bare Hills.

“I loved that project, and she’d al­ways bake cook­ies for every­one,” Ms. McCon­nell said. “She was nur­tur­ing, gra­cious, paid close at­ten­tion to de­tail, and was kind and in­clu­sive. She also had a spe­cial tal­ent for growing in­door plants.”

When trav­el­ing through­out the United States or Western Europe, Mrs. Edwards never missed an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore a re­gion’s flower and botan­i­cal gar­dens.

“The Chelsea Flower Show in London was her fa­vorite flower show, and the Ladew Top­i­ary Gar­dens in Monkton was her most cher­ished gar­den,” her hus­band said.

In 2005, Mrs. Edwards was pre­sented the Cather­ine Beat­tie Medal by the Gar­den Club of Amer­ica for ex­cel­lence in horticulture.

“Me­lanie had a lot of knowl­edge about horticulture. She would share her knowl­edge and plants, and helped other peo­ple with their gar­dens. She was a very warm and friendly per­son,” said Bar­bara P. “Bob­bie” Hansen, also an avid gar­dener and a long­time friend.

“She was or­ga­nized and did a fab­u­lous job with ev­ery­thing she did,” said Ms. Hansen, a for­mer Rux­ton res­i­dent who now lives in Lutherville. “Her small gar­den fea­tured na­tive plants and bon­sai. She had lots of bon­sai plants, and they were just lovely.”

He­len Couch, a for­mer Stoneleigh res­i­dent who now lives in Columbia, S.C., is a long­time Gar­den Club of Amer­ica judge.

“All those ac­tiv­i­ties for the gar­den club and the judg­ing pro­gram are dear to my heart and some­thing I would never forget,” wrote Ms. Couch in an email. “We had the best of times do­ing the things we loved to­gether.

“She’d hold bulb-planting par­ties at her garage and she showed us how to plant them in con­tain­ers. She’d do this ev­ery fall, and we had such a good time,” Ms. Couch said.

Mrs. Edwards prop­a­gated a palm tree from seed and later gave the plant to Ms. Couch, who wrote in her email that it was “thriv­ing in South Carolina.”

“I have thought of her ev­ery time I wa­tered the palm since she gave it to me,” she wrote. “Her mem­ory will live in me and in that palm for­ever.”

Pri­mar­ily a self-taught gar­dener and hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, she com­pleted the Mas­ter Gar­dener pro­gram in 2015 at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia-River­side while un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy.

Mrs. Edwards was a Gar­den Club of Amer­ica hor­ti­cul­tural judge who trav­eled ex­ten­sively through­out Mary­land, Penn­syl­va­nia and the District of Columbia judg­ing shows, in­clud­ing the noted Philadel­phia Flower Show, where she judged the suc­cu­lents cat­e­gory.

“She was a very, very good judge,” Mrs. Hansen said. Her hus­band re­called that Mrs. Edwards was at­tend­ing a meet­ing of the Gar­den Club of Amer­ica on Sept. 11, 2001, when no­ti­fied of the at­tack on the World Trade Cen­ter. Her com­mit­tee re­cessed the meet­ing and “prayed for the vic­tims, their fam­i­lies, the fire­fight­ers and res­cue per­son­nel,” he said in an email.

In ad­di­tion to gar­den­ing, Mrs. Edwards was an ac­com­plished pot­ter and a mem­ber of the Pot­ters’ Guild of Bal­ti­more. She stud­ied pot­tery mak­ing and glaz­ing tech­niques at An­ti­och Col­lege and was known par­tic­u­larly for her blue-tint glazed bowls and vases.

She was a volunteer fundraiser in the early days of Mary­land Pub­lic Tele­vi­sion, and more re­cently served as a volunteer seed prop­a­ga­tor with the Liv­ing Desert Zoo & Gar­dens in Palm Desert.

She was a mem­ber of St. Mar­garet Epis­co­pal Church in Palm Desert.

Mrs. Edwards en­joyed play­ing golf and bridge at the Bal­ti­more County Club, and also en­joyed play­ing at Lakes Coun­try Club in Palm Desert.

“For the Edwards fam­ily, Me­lanie was our true North Star. She was al­ways the voice of rea­son, ci­vil­ity and op­ti­mism,” her hus­band wrote.

Plans for a pri­vate me­mo­rial service to be held in Bal­ti­more are in­com­plete.

In ad­di­tion to her hus­band of 53 years, Mrs. Edwards is sur­vived by two daugh­ters, Va­lerie Edwards Vaile of Roland Park and Brett Edwards Nausha of Pasadena, Calif.; a brother, Frank Bien of Glen­coe; a sis­ter, Pamela Brown of Mount Pleas­ant, S.C.; and four grand­chil­dren. Me­lanie K. Edwards com­pleted the Mas­ter Gar­dener pro­gram in 2015 at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia-River­side.

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