Wickliffe, the Castle at Maryvale and Its Gardens by Carlisle Hashim

Maryvale Castle, credit Carlisle Hashim
Maryvale Castle, credit Carlisle Hashim
Wickliffe Castle, a home designed by Baltimore architect Wilson L. Smith, was built for Dr. and Mrs. Walter Wickes in 1912.  The 182 acre estate was originally owned by Charles Carroll, a Marylander and only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. It replicates a late medieval castle similar in design to Warwick Castle in England.  Tudor in style, its paneling, lead paned windows, porte cochere, turrets and tower cost $250,000 upon completion.  Located north of Baltimore City, the Castle is now Maryvale's Castle, a building like no other in a large radius of private schools.  Maryvale Preparatory School is a private Catholic girl school for grades 6-12.  
Picture credit: Maryvale Preparatory School Leaded glass doors lead to a raised terrace overlooking pristine woods.  To the side of the terrace is the boxwood garden, a garden that appears to be original to the house. Other designs by Wilson L. Smith do not shed light on the design of Wickcliffe's boxwood garden.  Had the Wickes wanted to replicate their garden to be of late Medieval bordering early Renaissance period, certainly boxwood would have been used.  One descends from the stone terrace at Maryvale to the sunken boxwood garden.  At the far corners are small stone turrets, five, six steps high.  Late pictures show a tilted umbrella with garden furniture, to afford other terraced views.   The boxwood room is probably close to 100 years old and is in good condition.  There is a maize.  One thinks of Hampton Courts, England, home of Henry VIII.  In "A Garden Walk," a book written by Adelma Grenier Simmons, she notes that the smell of box can be annoying or not.  But, she believes that "Queen Anne, who at Hampton Court, had all the magnificent boxwood cut because she didn't like the smell ... wantonly destroyed years of growth." IMG_0130 Was there an herbal garden surrounded by knots of box when the Wickes laid out their beds?  Pollen tests would be necessary to determine what herbs were grown before the boxwood became so big that they were the only specimen.  The Maryvale students are in good company.   Monks, Shakespeare, and European royalty if dreamt of boxwood were "assured ... of long life, prosperity and a happy marriage," as quoted by Mrs. Adelma Grenier Simmons of Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, Connecticut.  

Wonky Conker Tree and Helping Hand, Bideford Quay, England

Wonky Conker Tree, credit:  Tom Arno
Wonky Conker Tree and Helping Hand, credit: Tom Arno
The “Helping Hand”, which holds up the “Wonky Conker tree," near Kingsley Statue on Bideford Quay in England, very nearly didn’t happen at all.  Some years before  its construction, it was decided to chop down the mature trees on the riverbank in order to facilitate the building of the new car park. Many trees were sawn down on a Sunday before an outraged public became aware of the destruction.  One brave fellow sat by the “Wonky Conker”, successfully to save it from the chainsaws. A few years later, Doug Jenkin of Torridge District Council telephoned me, explaining that the “Wonky Conker” was in need of some physical support.  He asked me if I had any ideas. After mulling things over, we came up with the idea of a hand thrusting through the paving stones to support the large horizontal branch.  This idea was eventually approved and I set to work. I bought some large lengths of oak from Torridge Hardwoods in Littleham, and with help and advice from my friend Barry Hughes, I worked out how to undertake the project.  Firstly, the branch was supported by a metal prop that had been set into the ground.  I then constructed the sleeve around the prop.  The next stage was to form the fingers from individual lengths of oak and bolt them all together.  Finally, the fingers, palm and thumb of the hand were set into the sleeve. The “Helping Hand” project was covered in the local press, including an illustration of what was proposed.  At this stage, a lady called Mrs Mayhew contacted Torridge District Council to say that she would like to pay for its construction, in memory of her late husband Samuel.  This is why the initials S.T.M. and dates 1914-2000 were carved into the cuff. The “Helping Hand” has been supporting the “Wonky Conker” for ten years.  It is well weathered and has become a much photographed landmark.   I hope that it will continue to give pleasure to Bidefordians and visitors for years to come. John Butler. (See more of John’s work at his studio in Butchers’ Row,  Bideford Pannier Market).
-And very good it looks, too - as does the site.   John Butler, Bideford's long-established & well respected woodcarver (and author of the article) - http://www.johnbutlerwoodcarver.co.uk/index.htm

Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston Tea Plantation and Oak Tree, Credit:  Bigelow Tea
Charleston Tea Plantation and Oak Tree, Credit: Bigelow Tea
Tea thrives in growth at the Charleston Tea Plantation located on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina.  Hundreds of varieties of the tea plant, the camellia sinensis, can be found here, at this American tea plantation.  Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina is located in the region commonly known as the Low Country.  Its frequent rain, high heat and humidity are an ideal climate for growing tea. In the 1700’s, the camellia sinensis first arrived in the United States from China.  Several attempts were made in South Carolina over the next 150 years to propagate and produce tea for consumption, but none were triumphant.
Tea Plant Bloom, Credit: Bigelow Tea
Tea Plant Bloom, Credit: Bigelow Tea
Not until 1888, when Dr. Charles Shepard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina, did American grown tea become a reality.  In Summerville, Dr. Shepard created award winning teas until his death in 1915.  For the next 48 years, the tea plants grew wild at Pinehurst. In 1963, the Lipton Tea Company purchased a 137 acre potato farm on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, and transplanted Shepard’s tea plants from Pinehurst to the farm.  For 24 years Lipton conducted research on this experimental farm. In 1987, William Hall purchased the farm from Lipton Tea Company.  Hall, a third generation tea taster, who received his formal training in a four year tea apprenticeship in London, England, converted the research and development farm to a commercial operation.  Thanks to Hall’s persistence, the Charleston Tea Plantation became and still is the home of American Classic Tea, tea grown in America. In 2003 Hall partnered with the Bigelow family, who brought to the plantation 60 years of experience in the specialty tea business.  Since 2003, the Charleston Tea Plantation has transformed into a true American dream.  American Classic Tea has maintained its faithful fans since its start in the late 1980’s and has continued to prosper as a result of consumers wanting to experience tea grown and produced in America. Today the Charleston Tea Plantation offers more than just a cup of fresh tea.  The true working tea farm presents a learning experience unlike any other in the country.  On the Tea Facto , ry Tourvisitors are guided down a plexiglass tour way overlooking the factory by the Bigelow’s themselves (via several flat screen televisions) and educated about the history of tea, Bigelow Tea, American Classic Tea, the Plantation, and the actual harvesting and production process that takes place onsite at the Charleston Tea Plantation.  There is also a narrated Trolley Tour available that transports guests around the tea fields as they listen to a voiceover of William Hall, educating them about the history of the property and its plants.  The experience is not only educational and exciting, but is most importantly one-of-a-kind!  The tea plantation is open daily (Monday-Saturday from 10-4 and Sundays from noon-4) and admission is free. www.bigelowtea.com

Coleus Sunshine

Sunshine Coleus, CarlisleFlowers permission
Sunshine Coleus, credit:CarlisleFlowers
It's Mother's Day weekend and the gardening mother is taken by the non-gardening father to Cylburn Arboretum's Annual Market Day.  We went directly to the hothouse where it was single file down the line of annuals propagated by the City of Baltimore's citizens, friends and staff.  The choice of coleuses was overwhelming.  My husband stood tall and guarded our picks because swooping hands were flying low.  I asked for his advice trying to arrange a tall center plant, a medium size spreading plant and a trailer for my containers.  Yet my dear one spied the hot lick of the day, the Sunshine Coleus.  Going against all the rules I bought three for each planter and will have only a mounded grouping.  They are so gorgeous I'm not sure anything could pair with them.
Cylburn Arboretum, Baltimore, MD, Courtesy: Cylburn Arboretum Association
Cylburn Arboretum, Baltimore, MD, Courtesy: Cylburn Arboretum Association
Upon leaving (with dollars to spare!), I happily told hubby that these coleuses, brassy bold, were favorites of the Victorians.  He asked if they were annuals.  "Yes," I said.  "Can we get them back?" he wanted to know.  "Only if we come to Cylburn next year.  And hon, (so Baltimorese) I'm so glad you picked them out."  "See," as people admired our cache on the way out, "all gardeners smile at each other.  They don't need to talk about anything else but flowers and trees.
1870 English Victorian Garden, Courtesy, The Flower Museum, London, England
1870 English Victorian Garden, Courtesy, The Flower Museum, London, England
St. Louis Victorian Garden, Courtesy: Missouri Botanical Garden
Victorian Garden, Courtesy: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO
www.cylburnassociation.org www.gardenmuseum.org.uk

Adrian Bloom’s Best Perennials at Horticulture Society of Maryland

Jacket Courtesy Timber Press
Jacket Courtesy Timber Press
Sunday, April 17, 2011  -  5 - 8 p.m.



Join us as Adrian Bloom of Blooms of Bressingham introduces us to his favorite garden plants and creative ways to use perennials and grasses in the year-round garden.  Over the decades his company, Blooms Nurseries, Ltd., England, has been responsible for introducing American gardeners to unique varieties of perennials for which he and his father, Alan, are internationally recognized.  You may know Adrian Bloom from his highly acclaimed book, Gardening with Conifers.  His new book Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses; Expert Plant Choices and Dramatic Combinations for Year-Round Gardens will be the central theme of the evening.

THE EVENING INCLUDES: 5:00 - First lecture;   6:00 -  Light dinner & wine from Sasha's Silver Sac, book signing and sale of several favorite plants from the book;  7:00 - Second lecture and Q & A

For more information and to register online, visit our website: