Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category
Jesse Tyson, the grandson of abolitionist Elisha Tyson, purchased 180 rolling acres of north Baltimore land in 1863. The Quaker businessman planned to erect a summer home for himself and his aging mother. However, his mother passed away and the Civil War loomed, stalling development.
Tyson enlisted George Frederick, a gifted local architect, to design and oversee construction of a stone mansion at the property’s highest point. Built out of gneiss from Tyson’s Bare Hills quarry and topped with a mansard roof, Cylburn Mansion is one of Baltimore’s most unique homes. In 1889 Tyson and his young bride Edyth Johns began living at the property.
Edyth took immediate responsibility of the grounds, directing the landscaping and gardening that epitomizes Cylburn. She decorated the Victorian mansion with the same tenacity, filling the house with European furniture and art. After Jesse Tyson passed away in 1906 Edyth spent fours years as a widow before marrying Bruce Cotten, a veteran of China’s Boxer Rebellion.
The couple spent summers together at Cylburn entertaining friends and enjoying the peaceful surroundings. A private railroad brought guests to the remote area. Cotten volunteered his services during World War I and returned with the rank of Major. When his wife died in 1942 he sold the estate to the city.
Today Cylburn Arboretum is one of Baltimore’s finest parks. The preserve is free to the public and open from dawn until dusk Tuesday through Sunday. A modern visitor’s center recently opened and the mansion is under renovation. There are several hiking trails in the wooded area and the open air space is ideal for relaxation. Cylburn is without a doubt the cleanest park in Charm City and is perfect for escaping the stresses of urban living.
Sherwood Gardens is located on 6 sprawling acres in the North Baltimore neighborhood of Guilford. Each year the tranquil expanse is planted with around 80,000 tulips. April and May are the best months to see Sherwood in full bloom. The park has no fence and is open to the public.
Guilford was once the estate of Revolutionary War veteran General William McDonald. McDonald named his property after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse where he was wounded. Upon the good General’s death, his son, Billy, installed a boat lake, horse track and a massive 50 room Italianate mansion designed by local architects Edmund Lind and William Murdoch.
Baltimore Sun publisher Arunah S. Abell purchased the rural property in 1872 for his family’s country seat. The Guilford Park Company acquired 210 acres in 1907 from Abell’s heirs for a million dollars and began developing shortly thereafter. The boat lake was drained and made into a community park named Stratford Green.
When the Olmsted Brothers designed community opened, local oil baron John Sherwood purchased a lot near Stratford Green and set about building his home. The conservationist’s love of gardening found him importing Dutch tulips and transplanting Colonial period trees from Southern Maryland. He purchased adjoining lots and created a vast flowering landscape. The Guilford community has maintained the park ever since Sherwood’s death in 1965.
In 1892, lawyer and businessman Peter Hamilton gifted Druid Hill Park and the city of Baltimore this peculiar sundial. Hamilton was a 19th Century stonecutter (much like Hugh Sisson) who became president of the Guilford and Waltersville Granite Company, the firm responsible for supplying the stone for the Library of Congress. After countless hours of calculations, Hamilton hand-carved the the hemispherical compendium dial, affixing shadow-casting metal gnomons to the completed sculpture. In 1904 the sundial was repaired and reset by the Board of Park Commissioners. The board had metal sheets placed over the sundial, protecting it from the elements.
When local resident George McDowell, a sundial enthusiast, heard about the relic he went to investigate. He found the dial to be mathematically incorrect and decided to personally oversee its 1993 restoration. Jacques Kelly interviewed McDowell for a Baltimore Sun feature in 1994.
With the city’s permission, he worked with local metal artist Larry Lewis to have the dial cleaned of years’ worth of dirt. Some of the gnomons had been vandalized. Others needed mathematical correction. Mr. Lewis fabricated replacement pieces.
Peter Hamilton’s restored sundial sits within the John Cook Memorial Rose Garden next to George Aloysius Frederick’s historic greenhouse. Built between 1887 and 1888, the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory (or Palm House) contains exotic plants from around the world.
3100 Swann Drive in Druid Hill Park (Street View)
GPS: 39° 19′ 5.40″ N 76° 38′ 43.80″ W
The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore was established in 1888 on the grounds of Druid Hill Park. Today the greenhouse network continues to thrive with plants from all over the world growing inside the contained environment. In 2004, a $4.8-million renovation took place that linked the main building, or Palm House, with some of the newer structures located behind it.
Directly to the right of the Conservatory is the John Cook memorial garden and sundial. Cook was a German-born immigrant that arrived in America in 1853. He came from a long line of florists and continued the family tradition in Baltimore, first tending garden for J. Howard McHenry, the grandson of James McHenry, then opening his own store in 1870.
As his career progressed, Cook began performing experiments with his roses, searching for new varieties. His hybrid tea, Radiance, became one of the most popular flowers of the early twentieth century. This garden was dedicated in John Cook’s honor.
Within the boundaries of the garden rests a strange sundial. From a distance it looks like a piece of modern art, but when you get closer you see the multiple time-telling gnomons jutting out from the structure. The timepiece was created in 1890 by a local stonemason named Peter Hamilton under the direction of the Johns Hopkins mathematics department. It tells the time for numerous places on earth from Cape Cod to Tokyo, but was designed before daylight savings time, and is mostly inaccurate now.
- George Washington (Druid Hill)
- Columbus Monument (Druid Hill)
- William Wallace Statue
- Eli Siegel Stone
- Wagner Bust
- The Repeal Statue
Harford Road & E 32nd Street (Street View)
GPS: 39° 19′ 37.64″ N 76° 35′ 1.89″ W
The Board of Park Commissioners dedicated the garden to all the mothers of Baltimore in 1926. Two years later a tablet was fitted to a stone and placed at the site, marking the memorial. Mayor William Donald Schaefer rededicated the garden in 1984 to his mom Tululu Schaefer. In recent years, the Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corporation introduced a plan to improve the facilities of Clifton Park, including Mothers’ Garden. Once the summer home of Johns Hopkins, Clifton was the intended site for the university bearing his name, but was deemed too far from the city’s core. Instead, the land was turned into a municipal golf course and community park.
At the northern tip of Clifton Park, the memorial is a strangely peaceful place. A small domed edifice surrounded by benches sits on top of the hill, and a pedestrian bridge crosses a forgotten pond. Situated between Harford Road and the golf course’s 5th hole green, Mothers’ Garden is across the street from Montebello Elementary School.
Decker Gardens at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus
GPS: 39° 19′ 46.79″ N 76° 37′ 20.60″ W
In 1926, Edward Berge‘s Sea Urchin, was installed in front of the Lafayette Monument at Mount Vernon Place. Thirty-four years later his son, Henry Berge, created a larger copy of the statue, replacing the original. The smaller cast was then donated by Frank R. Huber, the man financially responsible for the 7’10” reproduction, to Paul M. Higinbotham, who gave the sculpture to Johns Hopkins University.
The sea urchin sits inside a lily pond on the front lawn of the school president’s home. The man made lagoon features a fountain at the base of the statue, and is dedicated to trustee Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. Just south of the historic Homewood House Museum, the Decker gardens provide a remote hideaway on campus grounds. A bench at the edge of the park offers a perfect seat for sunset watching.