Adkins Arboretum Completes Parking Lot Alive!

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June marked the completion of Parking Lot Alive!, a parking lot retrofit project at Adkins Arboretum. The project transformed a barren sea of asphalt into a parking lot that demonstrates best practices for managing stormwater and benefits from lush plantings and added shade.

Over the span of four months, Unity Landscape Design/Build implemented a design by Campion Hruby Landscape Architects and DesignGreen, LLC to create a beautiful, functional and innovative cultivated garden designed as a series of stormwater management devices. The parking lot is now outfitted with six erosion sediment control devices and seven additional planted gardens. Eleven areas throughout the lot have been densely planted with 17,000 native plants.

Areas of the lot were excavated and regraded to help direct stormwater, slow its flow and allow it to be absorbed into the landscape instead of flowing unchecked to the Arboretum wetland, Blockston Branch, the Choptank River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Asphalt was removed and replaced with permeable pavers that also function as a pathway to the entrance bridge. An underground hydraulic bridge connects some of the gardens and now serves as an overflow redundancy for heavy rain events. The past month’s heavy rains have been held by planted swales that allow the rainfall to gradually percolate and transpire.

Photo by Kellen McCluskey

The dense plantings of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials have already attracted numerous species of birds and pollinators and will offer much-needed shade once they become established. A broad variety of native plants was selected for both dry and wet conditions, and plants were installed densely to reduce weed pressure.

Arboretum volunteers assisted in planting five of the garden beds and continue to help keep weeds at bay. Volunteers and staff have already dedicated more than 300 hours to planting and caring for the gardens. The public is invited to visit, enjoy the gardens and learn about best practices for managing stormwater.

Parking Lot Alive! was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust G3 Implementation Phase Grant Program and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. The Arboretum has been fortunate to partner with project designers Campion Hruby Landscape Architects and Design Green, LLC and contractors Unity Landscape Design/Build, and to consult with the Caroline County Department of Planning and Codes and the University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Project WILD Professional Development is Aug. 3 at Adkins Arboretum

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Adkins Arboretum will host Project WILD, a professional development workshop about wildlife and conservation, for K–12 teachers on Sat., Aug. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Presented by Kerry Wixted, wildlife education and outreach specialist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the workshop is perfect for teachers in both formal and informal settings, as well as anyone with an interest in environmental education.

A project of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Project WILD is dedicated to helping students learn how to think, not what to think, about wildlife and the environment. All curriculum materials are back by sound education practices and theory and represent the work of many within the fields of education and natural resource management from across the country.

The workshop will cover pollination, field investigations, inquiry-based learning and more. All participants will receive two free Project WILD guides filled with more than 100 lesson plans. The course counts as professional development for Maryland Green Schools and for Maryland Master Naturalists.

The Project WILD workshop is $25 for Arboretum members and $30 for non-members. Advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

July Pollinator Programs at Adkins Arboretum

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Solitary bee. Photo courtesy of Pollinators Prospering People.

Adkins Arboretum will host a trio of programs this month aimed at educating about pollinators, their needs and ways to increase their vital habitat. All programs will be led by Melinda Fegler and Lindsay Hollister of Pollinators Prospering People (PX3), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting sustainable pollinator habitat. Programs include:

Befriending Bumblebees, 1–4 p.m. on Sun., July 14. Learn about the bumble’s importance for wildlife and for humans’ edible gardens. Participants will learn Maryland bumble ID and how to design a garden to attract bumblebees, as well as build a bumblebee hive box.

Solitary Bee Beginnings, 1–4 p.m. on Sun., July 21. What is a solitary bee? Learn about the ecology, life cycles and groupings of these lone workers. Participants will also learn about garden additions for solitary bees, build a solitary bee condo and practice identification.

Caterpillars to Butterflies, 1–4 p.m. on Sun., July 28. Learn about the mysteries of and threats to these beautiful pollinators and the important role they play in the natural world. Participants will build a chrysalis tree, learn to use identification resources and practice skills during a NABA butterfly count.

Each program is $35 for Arboretum members and $40 for non-members. All three sessions count as continuing education for Master Gardeners and for Maryland Master Naturalists. Advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Wild Lines, Environmental Sculpture by Howard and Mary McCoy, at Adkins Arboretum

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“Scribble 1,” a sculpture comprising bittersweet vines and ironwood tree trunks, is part of Wild Lines, an outdoor environmental sculpture show by Centreville artists Howard and Mary McCoy. The show is on view through September at Adkins Arboretum.

Twirled around trees or swirling up from the forest floor, vines are the only materials environmental artists Howard and Mary McCoy used to create sculptures for Wild Lines, their outdoor show on view through Sept. 30 at Adkins Arboretum. On Sat., June 22, as part of a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with painter Lani Browning’s exhibit in the Visitor’s Center, the McCoys will lead a sculpture walk and talk about how their work was inspired by the vines growing in the Arboretum’s forest.

“We came day after day with a ladder and some tools to cut vines and pull them out of the trees,” said Mary McCoy. “Instant art materials. You see them everywhere, sweeping up into the trees and doing twists and turns from one branch to the next, just like 3-D drawings or writing. We’ve picked up on that and turned them into sculptures that mimic nature’s creativity, but in some slightly different ways.”

These two Centreville artists have been making site-specific sculptures in the Arboretum forest every other year for the past 20 years. In their recent shows, they’ve come to use only the materials they can find in the forest itself and chose this year to use vines exclusively.

Howard McCoy explained, “We work with the natural shapes of each vine, letting the curves and angles dictate how the piece proceeds or evolves, so it’s a real collaboration with nature. The way we’ve used them says something about the characteristics of the vines, like the grapevines are so thick and sturdy, you can’t bend them too far or they’ll break, but with bittersweet or honeysuckle, you can create some pretty tight curves.”

Standing right beside one of the wooden bridges spanning the Arboretum’s creek, “Scribble 1” is a three-dimensional doodle of bittersweet vines whirling back and forth around the twin trunks of an ironwood tree. Farther down the trail, several muscular grapevines form “Loop-de-loop.” Curved and twisted like giant knots, these dark brown vines contrast with the pale bark of the triple-trunked white oak where they are nestled.

The McCoys are fascinated by how natural forces are made visible every time a vine begins to grow up a tree. Even as it climbs a trunk, stretching up toward the sun, gravity is pulling it downward. Swirls and loops develop as the vine reaches to find one branch, then another where it can secure its hold. As it grows, its linear shapes evolve into a dance between gravity, stability and the urge for sunlight.

“Some of the visitors walking by when we were winding all these vines up into sculptures seemed to think we were a bit eccentric,” said Mary, laughing, “but nature does some even more bizarre things with vines. Sometimes they wrap all around themselves in incredible tangles, sometimes they make beautiful huge sweeps up into the trees, sometimes they wrap around the trees so tightly they actually distort the way the trees grow.”

Vines can take on phantasmagorical shapes, but they also threaten the life of the trees that support them. Their leaves can shade the tree’s leaves so that it can’t adequately photosynthesize, and their weight often breaks branches and pulls whole trees to the ground.

“We’re doing two things,” Howard said. “We’re helping the trees by getting those vines out of them, and then making sculpture with that material, so it’s a win-win situation. The trees are saved, and we get to make art.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Floral Paintings by Lani Browning on View Through July at Adkins Arboretum

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So lush, delicate and exquisitely colored that you can almost smell them, Lani Browning’s floral oil paintings on linen fill the gallery in Adkins Arboretum’s Visitor’s Center. This Centreville artist is well known for her award-winning landscape paintings, but in her show Bloom, on view through July 26, she focuses exclusively on flowers. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., June 22 from 3 to 5 p.m.

“I simply love flowers,” Browning said. “Always have. They make me happy. I’m enjoying a more intimate way of expressing myself by observing flowers and ‘listening’ to their stories.”

It’s a tribute to Browning’s exceptional skills as a painter that each of the flowers she paints is an individual. Each blossom in her “Casablanca Lilies” seems to reach out with its own particular animated gesture, and each is at a different stage in its development. The multicolored flowers in “Daffodils” appear to be engaged in a lively conversation, and every tiny, purplish floret in “Redbud” seems to be dancing with those around it.

Browning is a master at rendering exquisite shading and the subtleties of light and shadow with loose, deceptively casual brushstrokes. She deftly captures the intricacy and nuances of each five-petaled flower in the billowing branches of “Cherry Blossoms.” While the foreground blossoms catch the light on their delicate, pale pink petals, those behind fade back into the shadows, becoming more mysterious and impressionistic as they recede into the distance.

Browning explained, “I am interested in the flowers as personalities—the elegance of a rose, the perkiness of a daffodil, the romance of a peony—and playing with how they ‘emerge’ in my field of vision, thus the ‘pulling in and out’ of details.”

“Cherry Blossoms” by Lani Browning

There’s a glow to Browning’s flowers that makes them feel distinctly alive. Many are caught in the act of opening their petals, and the stems of those in full flower bend just a little, bringing to mind the phrase “heavy with blossom.”

“I paint the flowers from life,” Browning said. “It’s a challenge inside or outside. You must paint quickly! I rarely cut them unless there is an abundance of blossoms and/or a storm is coming. When I do cut them for a vase, it allows me to study them more closely, and my studio is filled with heavenly fragrance.”

Adding to a long list of honors, Browning recently won an award from the Oil Painters of America for her luminous painting “Hydrangeas,” which was included in its National Spring Online Exhibition, as well as in the Adkins show, and a People’s Choice Award from Chestertown RiverArts for her landscape “Chesapeake Environmental Center” in its Art of Stewardship Exhibit.

Despite her current focus on flowers, Browning continues to paint landscapes, finding particular inspiration in the Eastern Shore skies and water reflections and sometimes traveling to Cape Henlopen to paint the waves or even to Chestertown’s Downrigging festival to work on her series of paintings of the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel.

“The main thing is I like to change things up,” she said. “Tackle things I haven’t fully explored while still keeping my hand in those subjects that I’m more known for. I don’t like to repeat myself.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through July 26 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum’s Medieval Forest Fair

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Revel in a day of forest fun when Adkins Arboretum celebrates its second annual Medieval Forest Faire from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sat., June 15. Inspired by legends and lore of the medieval period, Forest Faire offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment for families in search of outdoor fun.

Adventurers of all ages are invited to embark on a forest quest and search among the trees for the Green Man of the ancient Celts. Some of the many activities planned include building with wattle and daub, guided foraging, archery practice, a labyrinth, cooking pottage over a campfire, medieval crafts and constructing “castles” with sections of tree stumps.

Medieval ballads and madrigals will be performed throughout the day by Ampersand and the Allegro Women’s Chorus. Fortunetelling and demonstrations by a local falconer will be ongoing, and the festivities will close with sword dancing by the Sammati Dance Company of Caroline County.

A local peasant (Shane Brill of Chestertown, at center) leads a discussion on foraging at Adkins Arboretum’s 2018 Forest Faire. Forest adventurers of all ages are invited to attend this year’s Medieval Forest Faire on Sat., June 15 from 11 to 3. Photo by Kellen McCluskey.

Fairegoers are encouraged to wear Camelot-inspired costumes and to bring their cameras for photos with notable nobles. Unicorn rides by Snapdragon Stables and refreshments, including ice cream by local Nice Farms Creamery, will be available for purchase.

Admission to Forest Faire is $10 per person for adults and children ages 6 and over. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free. Advance registration is appreciated. To register, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Forest Music Returns June 6 to Adkins Arboretum

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Adkins Arboretum joins the National Music Festival in presenting a unique improvisatory performance in the Arboretum forest on Thurs., June 6 when the NewBassoon Institute performs Forest Music.

Positioning themselves throughout the forest, within hearing distance though not necessarily within sight of one another, these innovative musicians will engage in a musical conversation that winds throughout the trees. Following the forest performance, there will be a brief concert at the Visitor’s Center. The program begins at 4 p.m.

Forest Music is free, though donations are welcome. Light refreshments and a cash wine and beer bar will be available. Advance registration is appreciated at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

The NewBassoon Institute is an annual workshop taught by “bassoon supergroup” Dark in the Song. The workshop focuses on contemporary bassoon literature, performance techniques and pedagogy, with the aim of teaching a new generation of open-minded players and bringing the bassoon and bassoon ensembles to the forefront of 21st-century music-making.

The National Music Festival brings together inspiring mentors and the next generation of gifted musicians, providing education, scholarships and affordable, adventurous public performances in and around Chestertown, Md., for two weeks each June. This year’s Festival is June 2–15. Visit nationalmusic.us for more information.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Explore Local Farms on Adkins Arboretum Tours

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Learn about myriad types of farming and conservation-minded farm practices when Adkins Arboretum offers a series of local farm tours beginning this spring. Six farms across the Mid-Shore will welcome participants to learn about their products and land management efforts and to engage in a hands-on project to take home.

The series kicks off on Sun., May 19 with a tour of Cottingham Farm on the banks of Goldsborough Creek in Easton. Join owner Cleo Braver to learn about food farming and the infrastructure required for crops, chickens and pigs before exploring cover crops, greenhouses and processing and storage spaces. Participants will also cut garlic scapes and make garlic scape pesto.

On Sun., June 2, join Carrie Jennings for a guided tour of her field-grown specialty flowers at Honeybee Flower Farm in Cordova. Jennings grows flowers without insecticides; by growing varieties not readily available from overseas, her operation helps to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. Participants should bring a vase or mason jar to create a cut flower arrangement to take home.

At Schoolhouse Farmhouse in Cordova, Lauren Giordano and George Burroughs follow a regenerative approach that includes minimal tilling, no synthetic pesticides or herbicides, and the use of cover crops. On Sun., June 23, learn how they use sustainable practices for vegetables, flowers and chickens. Participants will also take a walk through the meadow and create a hand-printed tea towel inspired by their surroundings.

On Sun., June 30, tour the organic cutting garden of floral designer and longtime Adkins docent Nancy Beatty. Owner of Sweetbay Designs, Beatty has grown her own flowers organically for more than 25 years. Participants will take home a tiny tussie-mussie made from greenery and mostly native plants.

Calico Fields Lavender Farm near Millington is on the tour schedule for Sun., July 7.

On their Calico Fields Lavender Farm near Millington, Christa and Jay Falstad grow their plants organically and tend and harvest them by hand to make high-quality bath and body products. Participants will cut their own lavender bunches and learn about the Falstads’ conservation efforts aimed at promoting native bee species and monarch butterflies.

A native nursery and garden center offering services and products that foster harmony with nature, Unity Church Hill Nursery & Farm has been growing produce, flowers, and vegetable and herb starts sustainably for the past three years. On Sun., Sept. 15, join Theresa Mycek for a tour of the food gardens to learn about the farm’s regenerative gardening methods. After the tour, participants will make a hardneck garlic “braid” to take home.

Each tour is $35 for Arboretum members and $40 for non-members. All tours run from 1 to 3 p.m. Advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information about programs, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum Offers May 1 Day Trip to Mt. Cuba

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Known for its gently rolling hills and spectacular wildflower displays, Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Del., inspires an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and a commitment to protect the habitats that sustain them. Join Adkins Arboretum on Wed., May 1 on a day trip for an in-depth look at the gardens and natural lands and to learn about notable native plants.

The former home and family estate of Lammot du Pont Copeland and his wife, Pamela Cunningham Copeland, Mt. Cuba features a stately Colonial Revival manor house built in 1935. Over time, the Copelands transformed the estate’s farmland into lush botanical gardens featuring some of the region’s most beautiful natives plants. In the 1960s, the couple became acutely aware of a changing ethic and thus became more concerned with ecology and the need for conservation. In response, noted landscape architect Seth Kelsey was hired to develop the woodland wildflower garden with native plants and to design the site’s ponds and many woodland garden paths. The site also includes formal gardens, trial gardens, a meadow and a dogwood path that radiates with spring blooms.

The gardens at Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Del., are radiant with spring blooms. Photo courtesy of Mt. Cuba Center.

Trilliums, the star of the season, are expected to be in bloom. These rare and beautiful wildflowers grow in drifts at Mt. Cuba in early to midspring, producing a range of peculiar smells—from sweet to stinky—that attract many different pollinators. Trilliums have three petals, three sepals and three leaves and come in a wide range of colors, from pure white to lemony yellow to deep maroon. The gardens at Mt. Cuba Center include every trillium species native to the United States.

Tickets are $95 for Arboretum members and $120 for non-members. The fee includes transportation, driver gratuity, admission, a docent-led tour and a gourmet boxed lunch. The bus departs from Aurora Park Drive in Easton at 8 a.m. with additional stops near Wye Mills and Chestertown. Return time is approximately 5 p.m. Register at adkinsarboretum.org, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0 to reserve a seat.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information about programs, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

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