Gar­den clubs host fundraiser to ben­e­fit Hamp­ton Man­sion

Groups work to main­tain grounds and gar­dens of his­toric site in Tow­son

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Mary Til­gh­man

It takes a lot of time, tal­ent and trea­sure to keep the grounds and gar­dens of Hamp­ton Na­tional His­toric Site look­ing beau­ti­ful.

With that in mind, a group of lo­cal gar­den clubs has or­ga­nized a ben­e­fit, Beauty in Bloom, to raise money to re­store and main­tain the land­scape of Tow­son’s only na­tional park and the an­ces­tral home of the Ridgelys, a lead­ing Bal­ti­more County fam­ily.

The ben­e­fit, set for Tues­day, will be hosted by the Fed­er­ated Gar­den Clubs of Maryland District III, an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion of 26 clubs in Bal­ti­more and Har­ford coun­ties, and held at the his­toric home of the Woman’s Club of Roland Park.

The event in­cludes pre­sen­ta­tions on fash­ion, food and flow­ers, a lun­cheon, ven­dors and a raf­fle of items from va­ca­tions to Bal­ti­more Ravens tick­ets. For more in­for­ma­tion go to his­torichamp­

Sev­eral gar­den club mem­bers are also mem­bers of His­toric Hamp­ton Inc., which raises money and aware­ness for the upkeep of Hamp­ton in part­ner­ship with the Na­tional Park Ser­vice. That makes the fundraiser a nat­u­ral pair­ing, said event chair­woman Carol Whit­man, a Mur­ray Hill res­i­dent who is a mem­ber of Hamp­ton’s board of di­rec­tors and a mem­ber of the Wood­brook-Mur­ray Hill Gar­den Club.

The idea for the event came from the Lutherville Gar­den Club, said Betty Reeves, a Lutherville mem­ber and di­rec­tor of the Fed­er­ated Gar­den Clubs of Maryland District III. At the club’s sug­ges­tion, District III took over plan­ning.

“It’s a lot of work for one club,” said Whit­man. “We wanted to spread out the du­ties.”

His­toric Hamp­ton Inc. has worked with lo­cal gar­den clubs on many restora­tion and con­ser­va­tion projects at the site, which Whit­man de­scribes as “a text­book in the evo­lu­tion of his­toric land­scap­ing from colo­nial times through to­day.”

The Glen Arm Gar­den Club, for ex­am­ple, has planted and main­tained an herb gar­den at the site since1966. Gar­den clubs also have pro­vided fund­ing for a sum­mer in­tern who plants and main­tains the for­mal gar­dens at the site, which fea­tures a his­toric man­sion and a 63-acre park with sev­eral state cham­pion trees and dozens of his­toric struc­tures.

“They’ve been great sup­port­ers for years and years,” Suzie Mer­ry­man, chair of His­toric Hamp­ton Inc., said of the clubs. “It’s won­der­ful that we have their sup­port.”

Hamp­ton’s gar­dens were renowned in the 19th cen­tury, said Gre­gory Wei­d­man, Hamp­ton’s cu­ra­tor.

The Ridgely fam­ily in­cluded in­dus­tri­al­ists who es­tab­lished an iron­works that pro­vided arms to the Con­ti­nen­tal Army dur­ing the Revo­lu­tion­ary War, as well as one of Maryland’s early gover­nors, Charles Car­nan Ridgely.

The house’s mis­tresses, in­clud­ing El­iza Ridgely, the wife of John Car­nan Ridgely, who lived in the house dur­ing the mid-19th cen­tury, were in­stru­men­tal in the de­sign of the gar­dens.

The gar­den lay­outs were in­spired by the for­mal gar­dens of Europe. The Great Ter­race, with its serpentine path and geo­met­ric “fall­ing gar­dens,” was prob­a­bly laid out soon af­ter con­struc­tion of the Ridgely home was fin­ished in 1790, Wei­d­man said.

“Ter­race gar­dens like this, with de­signed plant­ings, were quite pop­u­lar in the Ch­e­sa­peake re­gion, Maryland and Tide­wa­ter Vir­ginia through the late Colo­nial and early Fed­eral pe­riod,” Wei­d­man said, not­ing that the gar­dens evolved as tastes changed.

Brooke Derr, the Na­tional Park Ser­vice hor­ti­cul­tur­ist at Hamp­ton, said that be­cause vo­lu­mi­nous records were kept through the years, park of­fi­cials have a good idea of how the gar­dens were planted.

How­ever, while his­toric ac­cu­racy is main­tained where pos­si­ble, mod­ern needs force some changes. Be­cause of prob­lems with deer, for in­stance, “we have to pick dif­fer­ent plants that evoke the look or func­tion of the orig­i­nal,” Derr said.

Once the Beauty in Bloom fundraiser has wrapped up, or­ga­niz­ers will meet with park ser­vice staff to de­ter­mine which projects to fund, Whit­man said.

“Gar­den clubs en­joy beauty in na­ture, and Beauty in Bloom cel­e­brates how na­ture in­spires so many as­pects of our life,” she said. “By sup­port­ing the restora­tion and preser­va­tion of the land­scape at Hamp­ton, we can see how, through the cen­turies in Amer­ica, our lives have been formed and en­riched by it.”


Carol Whit­man is a board mem­ber of His­toric Hamp­ton Inc. and a mem­ber of Fed­er­ated Gar­den Clubs of Maryland, which will hold a ben­e­fit for the Hamp­ton Na­tional His­toric Site.

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