At one time, 18,000 visitors a year toured Greenway Gardens. The newly formed Friends of Greenway Gardens hope to bring those visitors back.
"We can't support 27 acres of horticultural exhibits without allowing people in here," said Steve Bogash at a meeting Wednesday night of about 40 members of the group.
The gardens, on Nicodemus Road between Routes 32 and 97, were purchased recently by the state and leased to the county.
Before they can be reopened to the public, volunteers must shape, clear and spruce up the thousands of trees and plants. At this week's meeting, members chose July 17 to get that work under way.
"We must agree on which projects must be done immediately," he said. "For now, we can look forward to pruning, pulling weeds and mowing. We have to train the grass down so we can walk on it instead of through it."
Mr. Bogash and several others plan a walking tour of the grounds before the work session to help identify immediate needs. They also will review the previous owners' landscape plan.
Steve Barnhart of Patapsco Valley Trout Unlimited offered a topographic survey and a list of ideas. "We would like to preserve stream banks for uses in harmony with horticultural interests," he said.
The fishermen's group also would like to conduct workshops, offer fishing demonstrations and build a hatchery at the gardens, he said.
Mr. Bogash said all those goals fit with the site's formal name: Greenway Gardens Environmental Center.
"That is what we all want it to be, a multi-use environmental facility," he said.