Garden Club adds 'pizazz' to Catonsville landmarks

Bent Twig Garden Club a community staple in Catonsville

In 2013, the yard in front of the Catonsville Post Office was not a sight to see, according to Vickie Miller of Catonsville.

It was just grass and bushes with weeds, she said.

"Everything was overgrown, basically," she said. "And no pizazz."

That's when Miller and her fellow members of the Bent Twig Garden Club stepped in.

The group can be seen volunteering while wearing their club shirts, that read "Life is great... Gardening makes it better," a play on the "Life is great in 21228" slogan shared around Catonsville, based on the area's ZIP code.

"It should be a point of pride to the community," said Carol Stauffer of Catonsville. "And we're just a little concerned that it's not."

Now, every other week, the 27 members of the garden club, ages 30 to 85, maintain the plants at the post office to continue to beautify the site.

Dan Bougher of Top Turf Landscaping, whose great-great-grandfather was the first postmaster at the Catonsville Post Office, donates time to trim the bushes.

On a recent morning, a driver passed by the club as they were working on Frederick Road and yelled that the flowers looked nice. It's a regular occurrence, members said.

The work at the post office is something manager of customer service Justin Moore appreciates. He's been at the Catonsville post office since March.

"The post office is part of their community," he said. "It's a very positive thing to see members of the community come together to support making something like that happen."

But the pleasure the group gets doesn't come just in words.

"It's a visual reward," Stauffer said, referring to the perennials and annuals lined up along the post office's sign, including plenty of the state flower, the Black-Eyed Susan and the club's flower, the Daylily.

The post office project is just one the club takes part in around the community.

In Catonsville, the group works on beautifying the garden at Christian Temple and the maintaining the planters at the entrance of the Catonsville branch of the Baltimore County Public Library and the Edmondson Avenue entrance of the No. 8 Streetcar Path of the Catonsville Heritage Trail.

In Arbutus, the group can be found maintaining the gardens at the entrance of the Arbutus Senior Center and the butterfly garden at the Arbutus branch of the Baltimore County Public Library.

"We love to make people happy," said Shirley Fratto, the group's president, who joined the club in 1975.

"Flowers makes us happy," Fratto said. "Nature makes us happy. We like to share our happiness with our neighborhood friends."

The group was founded in April 1960, as to promote an interest in horticulture, conservation, nature and ecology in home gardens and the community.

Two years later, it became a member of the Federate Garden Clubs of Maryland and National Garden Clubs. In 2007, it was incorporated.

Its proximity to Washington, D.C., has benefits: In 1982, the late Elise Everhardt, a charter member of the club, was contacted by Vice President George H.W. Bush's office asking for advice on using creeping fig on an elephant topiary.

The following year, Everhardt developed her own ivy which she named "Curvaceous." It's described as curly with three to five-lobed leaves with wide, creamy white margins and gray to gray-green splashed centers, according to The American Ivy Society.

For those interested in joining the group, they are invited to come to meetings at 11 a.m. on the third Thursday from September to June at the Christian Temple, 5820 Edmondson Ave.

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