Earlier in the week, I was delighted to meet Joy Stepcich at Talmar Gardens and Horticultural Therapy Center in Cromwell Valley Park. Stepcich, who chairs the project committee with the Hampton Garden Club, was excited to see the results of the garden club's beautification efforts of last November at the center's entranceway.

"We worked very hard with the county and others to make this landscaping project a success," said Stepcich, of Phoenix. "Our biggest fear was that the plants might not survive a harsh winter."

When we arrived, it was immediately evident that Stepcich's concerns might just be a reality. The plants seemed dormant, matching the color of the mulch that lined the right side of the entrance.

"I am sure that we will not see full bloom until further into May," said Stepcich.

Still, Stepcich agreed there will be a lot of work to do. The harsh winter, coupled with the growing deer population seeking out any food they could find, meant some touching up would be needed in the coming weeks.

Stepcich stated that the hard work began last July to make this partnership with Talmar possible. But they soon realized they needed assistance. One of the garden club's newest members, Mary Ellen Pluemer, contacted her son, Christopher Pluemer, who is a landscape artist with Pinehurst Landscape Co., of Glen Arm.

Pinehurst worked closely with Stepcich and her team throughout the process of working with the Baltimore County Park Council to secure proper permits. Before the group was given final approval, the council required Stepcich to not include any permanent landscaping structures and to use stones consistent with river rock.

To Stepcich, it was all worth it to make the entrance to Talmar — a nonprofit that provides a therapeutic and recreational environment particularly for individuals with chronic disabilities or chronic conditions — more welcoming and beautiful for all.

"It is a wonderful program that is so beneficial to those it serves," Stepcich said.

Talmar and the Hampton Garden Club each contributed $500 to the project.

"Pinehurst supplied the boulders, mulch, underlayment, plants and labor," Stepcich said. "We would have never been able to achieve this without Pinehurst landscaping."

Hampton Garden Club is planning a formal dedication in May, when the landscaping project is in full bloom.

In other news, Campus Hills resident Elizabeth McKinley participated in Loch Raven High School's Relay For Life event at the school on April 26. The event benefits the American Cancer Society, and McKinley hopes the event raises over $60,000 as they have in past years.

"This is a great charity to help cancer research and awareness," said McKinley. "We all know someone who has been touched by cancer, and this is why we relay."

To support McKinley or other participants, you can still make a donation at http://www.relayforlife.org.