Home » Home and Garden » We showed the Horticultural Society of Maryland around Greenbelt, and we’re all invited to its virtual talks.

We showed the Horticultural Society of Maryland around Greenbelt, and we’re all invited to its virtual talks.

posted in: Home and Garden
Mary Jo, Diana and Nancy in my front garden

The Horticultural Society of Maryland is a well-oiled horticultural and social machine, hosting talks by expert speakers and tours of amazing gardens in the tonier parts of Baltimore and its suburbs  (Here are some of them, and here’s more – Diana’s garden is the last one.) I’ve attended several tours with fellow gardening fanatic Mary Lou Williamson driving and me navigating, and we decided to return the favor by inviting the Society’s organizers down to seen our gardens and Greenbelt itself.

So this summer, with garden-visiting possible without fearing for our lives, Hort Society leaders Nancy Blois, Mary Jo Sherrod and Diana Jacquot came to call. I’d first met Nancy when we were both snowed in at the Philadelphia Flower Show and she said yes to sharing her just-snagged hotel room with me, someone she’d known for 10 minutes. (I blogged about that, of course.)

Prior to their visit I’d sent our visitors their homework – the PBS 5-minute video about Greenbelt as one of the “10 Towns that Changed America.” It does a far better job than I could explaining Greenbelt’s unique history.

Since our adventures in the snows of Philly, Nancy had followed me on my garden blog and seen videos of the garden, so she came prepared to closely examine some plants I’d recommended. Above, she’s looking skeptically at the groundcover comfrey I love, suspecting that it’s too thuggish for the garden. I tried my best to defend the plant, apparently to no avail.

Melissa, Nancy and Mary Jo in Melissa’s garden

Next, we visited another small GHI garden, this one of Melissa Mackey, president of the Beltsville Garden Club. (Here’s a 2020 video of her garden.)

Mary Lou, Diana, Mary Mary Jo and Nancy touring Mary Lou’s garden


After showing the visitors around Roosevelt Center (just peeking in the window of our gorgeous Old Greenbelt Theatre), the final stop was Mary Lou’s large, lakeside garden. (Mary Lou is best known for her long service as the News Review’s editor – and for her awesome garden.)

It was one of those gawd-awful summer days, hot and humid, but no amount of sweating could rush these garden tours because Mary Lou, Melissa and our visitors are all plant geeks, which I realized as I watched their deep dives into plant talk. And boy, that is so not me – I struggle to even remember plant names and am more likely to swoon over inviting seating areas than new cultivars. (Just goes to show there’s plenty of different things to like about gardening.)

Despite the weather, I thoroughly enjoyed the visitors, seeing their evident pleasure in touring the town and its gardens. What made me happiest was hearing how much they loved meeting Melissa and Mary Lou – two women who are at least as interesting as their plant collections. Probably more so. Like so many life-long avid gardeners I’ve known and admired.


Diana enjoyed seeing “the gardens AND the Art Deco architecture in the town center. I loved it all.”

Nancy added, “The lake is amazing, and Mary Lou’s property has to be one of the most covetable in the DC area.” And about Greenbelt she wrote, “I didn’t know about Greenbelt being a WPA project. I know it as a very convenient Metro stop with a monstrous huge parking lot where I’m always so relieved to find my car when I return.”

Maryland Hort’s Speaker Series


Maryland Hort has always been known for its top-quality speakers (including the normally travel-averse Margaret Roach), but people in the DC area have been loathe to make the schlep to the north side of Baltimore on Thursday nights to attend in person.

But now – you know where this is going – the talks are online, so they’re accessible to everyone! The cost is just $10 – click for details and registration. Or you can join the Society and enjoy the talks for free ($25/year for students, $50/year for individuals, $75 for households).

Nancy, who’s the program chair for the Society, wrote to tell me “We had our orientation with Bill Logan this afternoon, and he’s going to be great. You’ll love his slides – and his talk.”

And I can recommend Peter del Tredici, who may blow your mind by his radically different take on nonnative plants, even invasive ones. Looks like I’ve written about him once, then twice, then a third time.

Nancy says they’re enjoying the advantages of Zoom that we’ve all come to know, like easily reaching ALL Marylanders! Not just people who live close to the Cylburn Arboretum where the in-person talks are held. Lovely place, but a bear to get to from Greenbelt at rush hour, and the drive home is no fun, either.

Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV.

  1. Julie Winters
    | Reply

    What a delightful piece! Thanks for sharing this!

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