There were probably 100 varieties of day lily in the yard in the 19502 and '60s, he said..

But Virginia Campbell, who helped found the Women's Club of Towson and the town's public library, deserves credit for the azaleas too, he said. She and her family lived in the house for 20 years before they moved out and the Seitz family moved in.

An avid gardener, Campbell was responsible for many of the azalea plantings, he said. But he was told that she lost interest in gardening after the death of a son in World War II.

Seitz himself grew some azaleas from cuttings in the backyard after he moved into the house in 1985.

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His only problem with the azaleas has been snow falling off the roof and damaging them. "About 15 years go we had a very bad winter and we lost a couple," he said.

"I don't take the same interest in them that mother did, but I try to keep them going."

Selecting properties worthy of the title usually takes place the previous year, since azaleas can't be relied upon to be in full bloom before Gardens Day.

"A nice mix of colors always shows well," said Gwent Vaughn, "and because the different colors don't all bloom at the same time, the display lasts longer."

She has a hint for those who would like their own homes to be cited as a Towson Azalea House.

"Hedge clippers tend to ruin azaleas," she said. "And the nicest looking displays of azaleas are usually those that have been pruned the least."

Garden gems in and around Towson

In addition the 2012 Towson Azalea House award to R. Carlton Seitz at 502 Highland Ave., West Towson, the Towson Gardens Day Committee will extend the following Community Appreciation Awards during the noon ceremony on May 3 at the Towson Courthouse:

• GBMC Foundation for the Pink Garden near the Barman Cancer Center, gifted by the Roland Park Garden Club.

• Parlor and Wobbler, 406 E. Joppa Road, for a well-landscaped small office building.

• Greater Ruston Foundation for the small neighborhood park along Bellona Avenue near Jape Road.

• Clark Lingual of Lingual Realty for a well-landscaped small office building at 606 Providence Road near Jape Road.

• York Manor Association for its entryway off York Road, designed by Ben Grimm.

• Friends of the Towson Library for the Towson Library Garden (a $180 check will be presented toward the purchase of mountain laurel and red-twigged dogwoods for the coming year).

• Lutherville Lab Elementary for its Learning Garden, developed by the students with help from the Lutherville Garden Club (a $100 check for continued planting of perennials will be presented).

Also, Neighborhood Gardens of Merit that will be cited include: