A Garden Club Project
By Maria Springer
Being a member of the Glen Arm Garden Club has brought me much pleasure and special moments I never thought possible. I am currently the President of the club and have had many wonderful experiences with this group of enthusiastic and nature loving women. The Glen Arm Garden Club is a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of America and has rules and guidelines which we follow. We are no longer a group of ladies who wear white gloves and sip tea. We are involved in community service projects throughout the year.
One of our commuserviceprojects is maintaining an herb garden at the Hampton Mansion in the Baltimore area. The Hampton Mansion was the summer home of the Ridgely family from the 1700s until 1948 when the property was acquired by the Avalon Foundation and designated a National Historic Site later that year. In 1979, it was acquired by the National Park Service and underwent an extensive renovation in 2005. The Ridgelys were a very important family in the history of Baltimore and their former home has a rich history as well. Seven generations of the family lived at Hampton.
The current location of the herb garden was originally an octagonal wood building that housed slaves. After it burned down, the foundation was dug out and a pond was built to hold fish brought from the nearby Gunpowder River. The Ridgely kitchen kept the fish fresh in the pond until they were cooked and served at a meal. Later that pond was filled and an herb garden was established. In 1966 the Glen Arm Garden Club took over the maintenance of that herb garden and has maintained it ever since. In past years, the herbs were cut and dried and sold at the Hampton Gift Shop. We are not drying the herbs any longer, but are keeping the garden in its original design and planting it with specimens that the Ridgelys found necessary for their health and livelihood.
In 2005 one of our members took on the job of researching the herb garden and creating a list of the herbs that were planted during the Ridgely’s times. We now have accurate knowledge of what herbs need to be planted to keep it in its original state, and make it a Historic Herb Garden that fits into the Hampton Mansion as a National Historic Site.
The herbs that make this garden an “antique” garden are: Santolina, Lady’s Mantle, Wormwood, Feverfew, Hyssop, Lovage, Jacobs Ladder and Monarda, just to mention a few. Many of these herbs were not only used in the Ridgely kitchen, but were also used for medicinal purposes.
This Herb Garden has become a “teaching garden” for local schools, colleges and garden clubs around Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia as well as visitors to the historic site. Every plant in the garden is labeled for proper information in the student and visitor studies. We encourage teachers and students to pick leaves and crush them between their fingers to smell the aromas and feel the oils penetrating their fingers as an experience that they would not find in their own gardens.
This ongoing project has allowed the Glen Arm Garden Club to contribute to the community and help educate people that may only see herbs in little plastic containers at the grocery store.
Maria Springer has been teaching cooking classes highlighting her native Austrian cuisine from her home kitchen since 1992. She has been an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals since 1995. Maria has received national, and Maryland Public TV (PBS)/Art Today, attention with her Gingerbread House Events for children, and has been featured in numerous publications. Maria can be contacted at email@example.com.