Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners support the University of Maryland Extension mission by educating residents about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities. Our vision is to create a healthier world through environmental stewardship, particularly as it relates to the Chesapeake Bay.

We accomplish these goals across Anne Arundel County through a variety of projects. Take a look!

Anne Arundel County Fair Flower Show

The Fair takes place the second week in September at the County Fairgrounds on Generals Highway, Crownsville, MD. This has been a MG project for about 18 years. While it is not an on-going event, it is a very fun experience and a chance to pick up some volunteer hours at the end of the summer. Volunteers assist with preparation of the booth, accepting entries from the public, assisting the judges, tallying results, meeting with the public to answer questions, release of entries to exhibitors and clean up. There is a training session approximately two weeks prior to the event to familiarize volunteers with procedures.  All MG's, including interns are welcome to sign up.

Apprentice Gardens

Begun in 1998 as a demonstration garden, in 2001 the Apprentice Garden became a hands-on educational program to teach families about organic vegetable gardening in an environmentally safe and sustainable manner.

Eight families, including one or more children of any age, participate in the season-long program to learn garden planning, planting methods, weeding and watering strategies, harvesting, and garden closing procedures.

Please be aware that there is no shade in the garden area so a hat and water bottle are recommended. Restroom facilities are near-by. The Apprentice Garden is reached via unpaved road surfaces which may be carefully navigated by a wheelchair. Families plant and maintain their individually assigned family plot, and all common areas, with the assistance of master gardeners. The project meets weekly from 6:30 pm to dusk from the first of April through September. Project participants are recruited through word-of-mouth and from families on the waitlist for community garden spaces at Kinder Farm Park.

The Apprentice Garden is located in Kinder Farm Park at 1001 Kinder Farm Park Road, Millersville, Maryland between Benfield Road and East-West Boulevard on Jumpers Hole Road.

Arnold Elementary Youth Garden

Arnold Youth Garden includes gardens at Arnold Elementary School (AES) and Severn River Middle School (SRMS). It was founded in 2014 with an Unity Gardens Grant, and continues to be supported by both schools’ parent-teacher associations. Arnold Youth Garden is an Anne Arundel County Master Gardener approved project that provides education to the school community on conservation landscaping, native gardening, and mindfulness in nature. This project re-launched after an 18 month COVID hiatus due to school closures. We were happy to break ground in spring 2022 on two new gardens at AES in the rear courtyard. An existing landscape was re-planted as a native garden, and another area was enlarged to include new native plants. The gardens offer seasonal color, texture, and a variety of spring early blooming and fall late blooming pollinator plants for the benefit of students, who are not present during summer. The garden also provides a chance for students and parents to volunteer by maintaining the gardens. A focus of this project is teaching mindfulness in nature while gardening. This fall, Master Gardeners spent time with about 500 students from AES teaching about the insects and animals that rely on habitat created by the garden. Additionally, Master Gardeners, students, parents, and staff created a patio pottery garden and maintained the mediation and memorial gardens at SRMS. We were so impressed by the students' enthusiasm and existing knowledge that we've started planning a new garden at AES that will even more fully involve students, parents, and staff, pending COVID regulations.

If you are interested in volunteering for Arnold Youth Garden, please contact the Project Chairs, Joni Miller (AES) or Jessica Zinder (SRMS).

Jessica Zinder - jessreich2@yahoo.com
Joni Miller - jonisralla@gmail.com

Ask-a-Master Gardener

The Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners conduct plant clinics at various locations throughout the county.  The goal of the plant clinics is to educate the public by assisting with the following:

  • Plant, insect, and plant disease identification

  • Weed and bad bug control using sound, sustainable horticultural practices

  • Providing resources on various topics such as lawn care, actions for helping the Bay, and additional sources of information offered by the University of Maryland Extension

  • Sharing knowledge on many horticultural topics including composting, vegetable and flower gardening, Bay-friendly gardening and lawn care practices

Bay-Wise

Most Maryland residents live within a half-mile of a storm drain, stream, or river.  Those waterways eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay. What we do to maintain our own landscapes can affect the health of our local waterways (drainage ditches, streams, and rivers), the Chesapeake Bay, and our environment.

Since 2000, Bay-Wise committee members have taught Anne Arundel residents how better water quality can be achieved through smarter gardening.

Our committee, comprised of Master Gardeners, focuses attention to the education of Anne Arundel County residents on gardening practices that protect the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. We are working to create a community of sustainable gardeners.

We teach these healthy practices several ways, but most often by visiting with residents in their own yards, helping them to improve their gardening experiences. Using a tool we call the Bay-Wise Yardstick, we review environmentally sound stewardship practices and provide residents with a valuable packet of information. Residents whose practices earn 36 inches or more (on the Yard’stick) are certified as Bay-Wise and may post a Bay-Wise sign showing their good stewardship.

For more information on Bay-Wise practices, visit our Bay-Wise site. To request a yard visit and start spreading the Bay-Wise philosophy in your own neighborhood, please contact us at https://baywise.weebly.com.

Download a Yardstick and see how your yard measures up!

Bay-Wise Yardstick for Landscapes
Bay-Wise Yardstick for Food Gardens
Bay-Wise Yardstick for Small Space Gardens

Beekeeping

The plight of the honeybees has been a frequent topic in gardening and nature publications in the recent past, reaching front-page status in 2007 when populations of honeybees in North America dropped so precipitously that the decline was dubbed by beekeepers and scientists “colony collapse disorder.”  During the year spanning April 2017 to April 2018, the Bee Informed Partnership reported that Maryland lost 64% of its honeybee colonies, versus 40% nationwide.  Much needs to be done to understand the myriad of contributing causes and what can be done to reverse this trend.

The Anne Arundel County Master Gardener Beekeeping Project provides a window into the world of these fascinating creatures and gives the project members a unique opportunity to educate the public, including children, about the life and decline of the honeybees and what they can do to help. The Beekeeping Project began in 2009 with the establishment of one hive at Hancock's Resolution in Pasadena and expanded in 2010 with the addition of a second hive at Hancock’s Resolution.  In 2013 the Master Gardeners installed a hive at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.

Master Gardener Beekeeping Project volunteers educate the public about honeybees and pollinators, maintain the hives, and feed the bees as necessary during the winter months. In addition, the Project is often called upon to provide presentations and demonstrations for schools, garden clubs, and other organizations. Visit our Pollinators Corners page for a list of upcoming demonstrations.

Chase Lloyd House

The Chase–Lloyd House, built in 1769-1774, is one of the first brick three-story Georgian mansions to be built in the Thirteen Colonies, and is one of the finest examples of the style. Its interiors were designed by William Buckland.

Visitors will be educated about how native plants and vegetables blend in with an established landscape creating biodiversity and supporting sustainable horticultural practices, such as conserving water, composting and creating habitats for wildlie. In showcasing our Bay-Wise certified garden (since 2014), visitors will see and study these practices in order to use them in their own landscapes.

The Chase–Lloyd House House hosts over 1,000 visitors a year to tour the 250 year-old home and garden. 

Composting & Native Gardens at QWP

With the cooperation of the staff of Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, the Composting and Native Gardens project began in 2003.  From late April to early November, Master Gardeners teach the public how to successfully compost their yard waste and kitchen scraps. Composting reduces what goes to the county landfill, and gardeners find that using homemade compost in gardens and landscapes improves their soil and reduces the need for chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Master Gardeners maintain the Composting and Native Gardens site and give hour-long compost demonstrations. On scheduled days, talks are given by those on the team that are Master Composters. Anne Arundel County residents receive a free compost bin, provided by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recycling and information bag filled with printed materials explaining various ways to compost. 

Visitors are welcome to walk through the compost site, located on the Wildwood Trail in Quiet Waters Park even when we are not present. At the native plant beds, they can help themselves to a list of the plantings, stored in one of our literature boxes. At the adjacent compost site, there are literature boxes with our compost demonstration schedules and pamphlets describing the compost site and information about each of the 15 compost bins on display.

Garden Presentations

Garden clubs and civic associations have a longstanding need for informative programs for their meetings and gatherings. This project’s mission is to develop and provide a variety of presentations in PowerPoint format for their use.

The Garden Presentations team will continue to build the library, and members may choose subjects they want to research or edit existing presentations to meet requirements as stand-alone sessions.

The team especially welcomes “new” Master Gardeners, as their input and critiques will be critical to making the presentations successful, and as members of the project, they will learn from one another and contribute from their own gardening experience. Those with skill sets in writing, publishing, creating PowerPoint, proofreading, researching, and who have a genuine love for and curiosity about all things horticultural are invited to join in making this project fun and educational.

Hammonds Connection at the Dairy Farm

The Dairy Farm project began in 2010, in cooperation with the County Department of Recreation and Parks. The County developed a Master Plan to maintain the authenticity of this 857 acre historic area in Gambrills and create a place where the public could come and enjoy its beauty. Susan Knisely and Elizabeth Matarese were joined by Sue Owens and later, Malcolm Doying, in establishing the project. They work closely with the County and with the Maryland Sunrise Organic Farm, which leases much of the property, to comply with their requirements. The overall objective of Master Gardener activities at the Dairy Farm is to provide the public with information and examples of how native plants can be used successfully, especially in residential landscapes. Of the initial projects, the Holly Glen serves as a demonstration planting of specimen trees, holly, and other native plants in a woodland setting. The Village Garden development consists of demonstration gardens of various types (rain garden, herb garden, butterfly garden) planted with natives shrubs and flowering plants. A competition resulted in an overall landscape design and plan for the area. To view the winning plan designed by Tony Smouse, MG, click HERE. The Pavilion is planted with native and non-native shrubs and native plants, such as Viburnums and Myrica, and serves as a meeting place for tours and gatherings.

Normal workdays for the project are the second Saturday and fourth Thursday of each month, March through November, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, with other workdays scheduled as needed.

Visitors are welcome at the Farm for special events highlighting the farming lifestyle and history. The Farm management conducts educational tours, in which the Dairy Farm committee participates.

The Dairy Farm Project has been fortunate in obtaining financial support through grants from Unity Gardens and many hours of hard work from over 75 Master Gardeners.

The History of the Dairy Farm
The Dairy Farm Chronology

Hancock's Resolution

Historic Hancock’s Resolution is considered the oldest structure in Maryland north of the Severn River. It was built in 1785 and was the home and farm of Stephen Hancock. Our Master Gardeners sustain and maintain the yard and kitchen gardens of this historic property and educate adults and children about farming practices circa 1785-1840’s. The dooryard garden and enced kitchen garden showcase the utilitarian aspect of these small plots during colonial times. The gardens would have been tended by the women and children of the house for food preparation, medicinal use, clothing dyes, and other household uses. Heirloom variety vegetables and herbs are prominent garden features.

In the spring of 2015 Master Gardeners began establishing a lavender field.  Lavender is much loved for its fragrance and beauty.  Lavender thrives in poor soil, it is not disturbed by the deer and the farm has historic receipts that it was grown and taken to market.  Since then, two additional rows have been planted and Hancock’s Resolution hosts a Lavender Appreciation Day each year in June.

Master Gardener volunteer educators help plant, prune, weed, water, and answer questions that park visitors ask on any Sunday from 1:00-4:00, April through October. Some Sundays have extended hours to accommodate festivals, reenactments, and other farm-related demonstrations. There are also occasions when volunteers provide private tours for gardens clubs or for school and scout groups. Information about special programs, photos, and updates may be found on the Hancock’s Resolution web site or on their Facebook page. Hancock’s Resolution is located at 2795 Bayside Beach Road, on Anne Arundel County’s Bodkin Peninsula, in Pasadena, MD.

Linthicum Walks

Linthicum Walks is a historic home and farm complex in the Gambrills/Crofton area of Anne Arundel County. It consists of a 19th-century frame dwelling (part of which may be 18th century), a mid-19th century meathouse, and a family cemetery dating to the mid 19th century. The site is located adjacent to the Crofton Middle and High Schools. In 2021, an existing garden was taken over as a project within the Arundel Master Gardener program. An on-site demonstration pollinator garden was planted with over 25 different native plants. The goal of the garden is to demonstrate sustainable gardening practices, the importance of pollinators, and the ecological importance of native plants. Master Gardeners tend the gardens and provide environmental education through signage, tours and events. Linthicum Walks has level one arboretum status. The site is registered with the East Coast Pollinator Pathway, and pledges not to use pesticides, herbicides and strives to remove or manage invasive plants.

Mulch Application Best Practices

The key to good tree health, resilience and long-term sustainably is very much tied to good mulching practices.  Throughout Anne Arundel County it is all too common to see mulch applications in conical or volcano shaped mounds.  This routinely accepted landscape practice, while aesthetically appealing to some, is unnatural and can be very damaging to tree health. 

The purpose of the Mulch Education Project is for Master Gardeners to develop educational materials, write articles, offer presentations and demonstrations to educate the public about mulching best practices.  The project will also provide information about techniques to mitigate the damage to trees caused by improper mulching.  Outreach will be conducted at libraries, farmers markets, garden clubs, homeowners associations, environmental organizations and other public venues to engage individuals, neighborhoods, congregations, schools, private and governmental entities in the support of tree planting and stewardship.

The project will be conducted in collaboration with other county Master Gardening Volunteer projects and with Anne Arundel County’s Watershed Stewards Academy’s Replant Anne Arundel Tree Trooper Program.  As the project evolves, outreach efforts will hopefully extend to professional landscapers and the nursery industry. 

Mulch Matters - More than you think

For more information about mulching: 

https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/mulch

https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-724/426-724.html

Native Plant Propagation

This Master Gardener project was created to support the production and distribution of native species (perennials, shrubs, and seeds) that are specific to the mid-Atlantic Region. The goal for this project is to re-establish native eco-systems and accelerate the restoration of native plants.This program will educate the public about the importance of using native plants and teach them how to introduce native plants into their landscapes.

Plants will be propagated with volunteer effort at the USGS Bee Lab in Bowie MD. Recipients of native plants will include Parks, Watershed Societies, Master Gardeners, Nature Centers, Community Gardens, new home construction and individuals.

Seed Swap

The 2022 SEED SWAP was a wonderful success!

The 2022 Seed Swap took place on Saturday, March 26th at Odenton library. Due to Covid, we were unable to have an in-person Swap in 2021, so we were very happy to be able to have one in 2022. We had 125 participants (adults and kids), offered over 7,500 free packets of seeds, and gave away 40 terrific door prizes!

We'd like to thank all those whose generous donation of seeds made the 2022 Seed Swap possible:

  • AA Co Lawn and Garden Center
  • Meyer Seed Company 
  • Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • American Meadows Seeds
  • Harris Seeds
  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
  • Rohrer Seeds
  • True Leaf Seeds
  • Ferry Morse Seeds
  • Seed Savers Exchange
  • MIgardener Seeds
  • Sow True Seeds
  • Applewood Seed Company
  • Prairie Moon Nursery

The 2023 Seed Swap will be held on Saturday, February 4th at the Busch Annapolis Library. This fun event is free, and open to the public-- it's a day when folks can come get free seeds, learn about how to start and grow seeds, ask gardening questions, and hear about lots of other interesting
Master Gardener programs as well! Come with seeds to share or come without seeds! We will have goodie bags, door prizes, handouts, and more, plus take home the seeds of your choosing!

For more information about the Seed Swap Project please contact Sophie Sterling at SophieSterling1@gmail.com

South County Senior Center

South County Senior Center gardens are located at the senior center and the adjacent Edgewater Library on Stepney Lane in Edgewater, Maryland. The gardens stretch along the parking spots closest to the center. Over many years, this project has worked to reclaim abandoned gardens and supplement the efforts of Senior Center volunteer gardeners. The Master Gardener team and local volunteers have recovered the land from succession, controlled the weeds and brambles, found many original plantings, and added native flowers and trees. We have been fortunate over the years to partner with the Anne Arundel County Facilities crew in clearing diseased rose bushes, obtaining native plants, and seeing to larger scale care of the garden, such as yearly mulching.

In addition to enhancing the natural beauty of the Senior Center and Library environs and encouraging their development for the benefit of native species, a critical goal of the project is engaging users of the Senior Center and the Library. While the pandemic and the current renovation of the Senior Center have made it impossible for us to invite volunteers to join our workdays, we look forward to restarting this aspect of the project when we can do so easily and safely. Happily, each time we have been tending to the gardens, patrons have stopped by with questions about what we are doing, what kinds of plants are there and why, and what the project and the Master Gardeners are all about. These kind and good people love to ask questions, share their stories and advice, and always have a kind word to say about the garden and what it adds to the community.

In 2021 two Master Gardener interns became co-chairs of the project and spent the year learning a lot about the site from other MG’s and the local community and thinking about what might come next. In and beyond 2022, the project aims to recommit to its educational mission by beginning an initiative to install signage that provides both common and Latin names and whether the plant is native or ornamental for all the plants in the garden. Other short- and medium-term goals include installing paths and expanding the native plants section to provide a more holistic native habitat across the entirety of the garden. We also hope, even if we are unable to engage more directly with the public in 2022, to offer some safe outdoor educational opportunities with direct outreach to the Library and to the Senior Center when it reopens.

All Master Gardeners are invited to come to our planned work sessions. The work is easy, low-stress, and very enjoyable. Workdays tend to be scheduled on different days of the week, including late weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings, in an effort to accommodate a range of schedules. In addition to the new tasks we hope to undertake, there is always weeding, cleaning, watering, and general maintenance to do. Work sessions are advertised through the Friday Flash, direct emails, and the newsletter. We hope you’ll join us!

Tawes Garden

The five-acre Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden, located at the Department of Natural Resources building at 540 Taylor Avenue in Annapolis, was named for a former Maryland First Lady whose husband was Governor from 1959-1967. Prior to construction of the office building in the early 1970’s, the garden site was a flat cinder lot, used for parking and traveling carnivals. Beginning in 1975, the garden developers dug ponds, built a stream, and formed a “mountain” of large native boulders to change the topography to represent the state’s various geographic areas: a Western Maryland forest, a streamside environment, and an Eastern Shore peninsula.

Today, the Tawes Garden is an urban oasis, offering meandering paths through its gardens, woodlands and waterways. The three geographic areas feature distinctly different plants and trees, many native to Maryland, which change with the seasons. It is a quiet and beautiful place, open to the public all year round.

The goal of the Master Gardener project at Tawes is to promote sustainable and environmentally healthy gardening practices while educating the public about the advantages of planting native Maryland and pollinator-friendly plants. One of our key areas of interest is the identification and removal of invasive species. During the fall of 2021, Master Gardeners received a Unity Garden grant to revitalize the Plant Mural, one of the most beautiful features of the Tawes Garden.

Our group meets from April through November, on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday mornings and the 2nd an 4th Thursday mornings of the month. Hours are flexible and we work under the direction of the Tawes Horticulturist. Activities are season-specific, including pruning, planting beds and containers, mulching, raking, removing invasives and, of course, weeding. We also have occasional field trips and brown bag lecture/lunches. Tawes Garden is centrally located and we welcome all new and current Master Gardeners for a day or a season.

Woodland Garden

Inspiring a Secular Meditation Space
In September, 2008, Master Gardener, Bonnie Pavlak attended the book signing for OpenSpaces, Sacred Places, by Tom Stoner and Carolyn Rapp, held at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She was inspired by the book to create a peaceful space in Kinder Farm Park as a Master Gardener Project. The purpose of the Woodland Garden in Kinder Farm Park is to create a place of beauty in nature for people to sit, relax, meditate and be refreshed. People walking their dogs can stop and rest. Anyone using the park who wants to have some privacy can sit on one of the woodland benches.

After approval was given by Kinder Farm Park Superintendent, Bill Offutt, plans were made for the garden design. The work of clearing out invasive plants, poison ivy, and downed trees began in October. Park staff used heavy equipment to clear fallen trees, a liability hazard. The park also provided woodchips for the path and a bench. A grant proposal was submitted to Unity Gardens for the purchase of plants including Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticellata), Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), Witch Hazel (Hammamelis virginiana) and Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) in the spring of 2009.

Joining Together to Create a Quiet Space
A percolation test revealed that there were no drainage problems and while the soil test showed a pH 3.9, which is fairly acidic, it is expected in an oak-holly stand of trees. With the approval of the Unity Gardens grant, shrubs and some perennials were purchased and planted by the Master Gardener and several community volunteers. Passers-by expressed interest in the Woodland Garden and some generously donated plants to the garden such as jack-in-the-pulpit, lily-of-the-valley, ferns, and iris, in addition to piers to line the path, hoses, and a sprinkler. In the heat of the summer, volunteers water the new plantings and the park provides gator bags around the shrubs to irrigate them.

In the fall, a second Unity Garden Grant, provided resources to purchase seven Rhododendrons, four mountain laurel, and spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Unity Gardens also provided a bench from the TKF Foundation that funded the gardens presented in the inspirational book, Open Spaces, Sacred Places - a dream come true! The beautiful bench is constructed from a pickle barrel, so it will be preserved for a long time to come. The bench features a waterproof journal for visitors to write their thoughts and feelings. Mornings, Bonnie Pavlak usually jogs by the Woodland Garden to check on it, and often someone is sitting on the bench. The journal has some entries and sketches already.

Friends of Kinder Farm Park provided a grant to buy additional woodland perennials. Signs were placed at the entrance of the Woodland Garden recognizing the donations of Unity Gardens and Friends of Kinder Farm Park. The garden sleeps under a deep blanket of snow in the winter, and come spring, witch hazel, serviceberry, rhododendrons, bloodroot, wild ginger, hellebores, and mountain laurel make a showy display of color and beauty. Ferns, may-apples, and lilies grace the pathway. Additional funding from Unity Gardens has been used to plant blueberries and elderberry along the gravel road bordering the Woodland Garden. A persimmon, a weeping willow, an American hornbeam and a bald cypress were also planted. A moss garden was created near the TKF bench.