In spring 2019, the Finksburg branch of the Carroll County Public Library will celebrate its 10-year anniversary. A group of volunteers including master gardeners, Carroll students and even a Ravens player are working together to give the branch — and the community — a birthday present.
A group called the Gardener’s Guild is working in stages to build four custom-designed community gardens on the library property in a space that was formerly just grass and a few shrubs.
“What better way to acknowledge this milestone, than with a garden-scape created and cared for by the community that is served by the library,” said Lorraine Fulton, director of institutional advancement and development, who is heading up the guild.
The Gardener’s Guild officially broke ground on the new garden on May 24.
Now, the first two gardens, the Storytime Outdoor Classroom and the Reflection Garden, are starting to take shape.
Budding plants surround the freshly constructed pergola and stone bench and volunteers are sketching out plans for rain barrels and slate pathways that will lead guests through the space. Others are planning the planting of dense shrubbery that will help buffer the tranquil patrons of the reflective garden from the children’s activities.
The outdoor classroom has been designed as an all-seasons garden so there will be something for its young guests to explore at any time of year, from native red-twig dogwoods that will remain vibrant in the winter to lilacs which will have fragrant blooms around May.
Local businesses and Roaring Run Lions Club members have donated plants, funds and resources to get the garden going.
The idea is for children to attend story sessions outdoors surrounded by “a little bit of nature,” said Gardener’s Guild and Lions Club member Eileen Stoner.
In the center of the garden, the guild got a little help from its friends to construct the stone benches that will no doubt be the site of many future story times.
The guild reached out to masonry students at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center with an idea of what they wanted the benches to look like, and students took it from there, said teacher Mike Campanile.
“They got to feel first-hand how masons have a sense of pride,” he said. “They get to see their completed efforts become an enjoyment for others for many years to come.”
The benches were delivered to the site and set in place by Scott Smith of SW Smith Landscaping. The flagstone was donated by Ravens punter Sam Koch. Patrick Preston and Campanile set the flagstone in stone dust and grouted the joints.
Terri Conner, a master gardener who is helping to design the reflection garden, said it will contain all native plants in soothing colors like blue, white and pastels. Grasses will catch the breeze and add their ambient rustle to the space.
Laura O’Callaghan, another master gardener, said she wants the area to be one where guests can “come and sit and feel peaceful and surrounded by nature.” It will also be a great place to “read books and feel composed,” she said.
Fulton and Lynn Wheeler, executive director of the Carroll County Public Library system, came up with the idea for the garden project.
“Looking across the expanse of acreage surrounding the facility, it was apparent that a welcoming garden and tree canopy would hugelycomplement the beautiful architecture of the Library,” Fulton said.
Two additional “phases” are planned that will add two more garden spaces, the Welcome Garden and the Inside/Outside Garden.
The Welcome Garden will include butterfly gardens, a sensory garden and a fragrant garden located amid interactive garden sculptures, encouraging exploration.
The Inside/Outside Garden will align with the unique architectural design of the library and focus on the seasonal change of native plants in front of the tall glass windows facing Old Westminster Pike.
The Finksburg branch is built to the state’s specifications of a green building, and Fulton said the gardens will complement its environmental leanings.
“The Finksburg branch is located along the ‘gateway’ to Carroll County, geographically linking Carroll County to Baltimore County,” she said via email. “It is a very ‘community-centered’ library branch offering programs and services that reflect a focus on education and services that provide a lifetime of learning and enrichment.”
Branch manager Heather Owings is already beginning to plan activities for the garden including workshops with master gardeners for adults and outdoor stories and lessons for kids.
And the garden already has one permanent resident in the form of tree named Frank. He has his own email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and kids will be able to send him notes and wishes.
Currently the guild is made up of about 12 members, but they are looking for more, as well as volunteers who can come out just for a day or two. The Gardener’s Guild will maintain the gardens after they are constructed.
“Having a garden is a little like raising children. The care and love begins at conception and never ends. The garden, like the children, flourishes because it is nourished and supported,” Fulton said.
For more information on the community garden, to donate to the garden, or to become a member of the Gardener’s Guild, contact Fulton at email@example.com or Owings at 410-386-4505, ext. 8823, or firstname.lastname@example.org.