The Wednesday lecture series at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton is one of my favorite offerings at the world-class attraction. It’s easy to take for granted some of the Baltimore area’s finest places and institutions and not bother to step out of the daily routine to enjoy them.Last week, I took a day off from normal pursuits and went out to Ladew with two of Baltimore’s finest gardeners. We went to hear CeCe Haydock, a New York landscape architect, speak about the gardens of Paris. Early in her talk she made an exciting announcement about the garden: Ladew has just been named one of “Five North American Gardens Worth Travelling For”and received the award at the April 13th Canadian and International Garden Tourism Awards Luncheon in Vancouver. Ladew is in the good company of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and the High Line in New York City.
As Haydock continued, showing dozens of the 400 private and public gardens that give Paris its beauty, I could not help thinking about the importance of gardens for tourism. From the mammoth parks in Paris like the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes to the well-known Tuileries and Luxembourg gardens, to countless gardens like those at Hotel de Sully, the Carnavalet and the Rodin museums as wells as charming pocket parks like Boucicaut Square (which I stumbled on last June), gardens bring tourists and residents together for respite, beauty and recreation.
I thought also of Baltimore: Mount Vernon Square, Cylburn Arboretum and the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park, the new children’s park at Robert E. Lee Park, Federal Hill, Wyman and Stony Run parks. Baltimore has a wealth of green spaces and gardens. With work they too might become world-class attractions.
After the lecture, I walked outside and saw the hedges and famous topiary freshly clipped in preparation for the My Lady’s Manor races and weekend festivities. Surrounding garden rooms bloomed with tulips and daffodils, dogwoods, pink and white redbuds, Virginia bluebells, anemones and even some irises.
Over lunch in Harvey Ladew’s former stables, a Ladew and Cylburn Arboretum supporter said, “If only the state realized how important gardens are, especially for international visitors.” That goes for the city too. The Canadian award to Ladew speaks to the garden effort that should be made on behalf of tourism and quality of life for residents.