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A world of spring Exhibit: A fund-raiser for Union Memorial Hospital emphasizes outdoor environments with an international theme.


Baltimore landscapers and floral designers will bring a world of gardening ideas to Baltimore next weekend as they celebrate the 11th annual Rites of Spring.

The fund-raising event -- which is organized by scores of volunteers to benefit Union Memorial Hospital -- will welcome spring with an international theme that will blossom in garden and floral displays throughout the 4-H Building at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

The centerpiece of the sophisticated, regional garden show will be 4,000 square feet of professionally landscaped exhibition gardens that will celebrate the spirit of gardens around the world.

Through their global gardens, about a dozen local landscaping firms will seek to inspire visitors to take their own gardening beyond simple planting to the creation of outdoor environments.

Among the creative vignettes that will be portrayed are the working corner of an English garden, an Oriental garden with various types of moss and a North American wildflower garden with hardy carnivorous plants.

"The landscapers are trying to make an impression emotionally with their gardens," said Corey Branch, vice president of Pinehurst Landscape & Nursery, which will create a scene featuring ancient ruins overgrown by a lush jungle.

A pond and a waterfall will be the focal point of the Outside Unlimited landscaping firm's serene tropical oasis. Maxalea Nurseries will capture the dignity of the Arc de Triomphe in a French formal garden with fountain, benches, the French flag, flowering trees, a low inkberry hedge, bulbs and azaleas.

European Landscapes & Design will explore "the garden as art" in a setting that combines works by several local artists with a veranda or pergola and a terrace near an empty pond that has wooden fish mounted on stakes and painted steel to create the (( illusion of rippling water.

Foxborough Nursery will convey the feeling of an abandoned Australian garden in a picturesque setting with the ruins of a springhouse and dwarf and unusual conifers.

"It's a small garden show, but it's really top of the line," said Gregory Tracey, president of Royalty Landscape & Design, which will display a restful Ukrainian meditation garden. "It's almost a Philadelphia Flower Show in miniature."

About 5,000 visitors are expected to attend the Rites of Spring. Thirty boutiques will sell products for the home and garden, including several varieties of historic rose plants such as the Baltimore Belle, a blush-pink climber hybridized here in 1843.

The international theme will travel beyond the gardens to the floral displays and the bistro and snack bar, where croissants, espresso, quiche, Asian turkey roll-ups and other foods from around the world will be served.

At the entrance, visitors will be greeted by flags of the Netherlands, Spain, China, Greece and other nations as part of a display of floral designs representing Baltimore's sister cities throughout the world.

The arrangements will include indigenous flowers in containers selected to represent the traditions of each city. As an example, says event coordinator Betty Davis, red geraniums and yellow carnations, arranged in delicate Lladro porcelain, might be used to portray the colors of the Spanish flag.

Large Oriental, French, British, tropical and American wedding floral works of art by local floral designers will be arranged in fun and creative displays on 6- foot pedestals throughout the hall.

Area garden-club members who have won blue ribbons for diverse and unusual floral arrangements made from anything from vegetables to twigs have been invited to replicate their "best of the best" winning entries in a "Blue Ribbon Hall of Fame" exhibit.

Volunteers for the Union Memorial Hospital Foundation -- which presents the show -- will operate a booth selling "gently used items and first class bargains" such as decorative garden ornaments and vases at "The Secondhand Rose: A First Class Shoppe."

Visitors who buy a vase there may want to make their next stop at the "Flower Power" booth, where volunteers will custom-arrange fresh flowers for purchase and also conduct floral demonstrations.

"We want to show people what they can do," said foundation volunteer Charlton McLean. "The flower arranging is always the most popular demonstration."

Rites of Spring

What: Benefit for the Union Memorial Hospital

When: Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium

Cost: Adults, $6; seniors, $5; children under 12 admitted free

Information: Call (410) 554-2662

Pub Date: 4/06/97

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