Trails, tours to put the spring in steps of garden visitors


Spring into the season at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton. Visit the 22-acre garden Saturday as it officially opens for the 2005 season, and see flowering bulbs, shrubs and trees, as well as hundreds of topiary forms.

"Opening day features guided house tours, self-guided garden tours and self-guided Nature Walk tours," says Karen Babcock, Ladew's associate director.

"Spring bulbs are starting to bloom, and the hundreds of topiary forms throughout the 22 acres always delight visitors of all ages. Especially exciting to children are the thousands of frog eggs and frogs, in evidence this time of year in the ponds throughout the gardens."

For those seeking to spot migrating birds, spring peepers, turtles and other wildlife, the Nature Walk is an enjoyable family-friendly activity.

"The Nature Walk is a 1.5-mile trail of which about 25 percent is a boardwalk through wetland forest habitat," Babcock says. "There are educational stations throughout, [and] the Nature Walk also features a quarry pond and streams, wildflower meadows, upland forest and marsh. It's about 50 acres of Maryland wildlife habitat. We have recently spotted barred owls, wood ducks, bluebirds, deer, frog eggs and a woodcock."

Visitors to Ladew also can explore the 1747 Manor House, which will be open for 45-minute guided tours. The equestrian-inspired Manor House showcases a vast collection of antique English furniture. All pieces, from the paintings on the walls to the fox-hunting memorabilia adorning the rooms, were acquired by original owner Harvey Ladew.

Throughout the year, Ladew presents more than 40 events, from antique car shows to garden talks. Coming up are the "My Lady's Manor Steeplechase Races" on April 16, a botanical art exhibit by Meg Page from April 22 through May 22 and a Mother's Day event May 8.

"Ladew [presents] 'Storytime' sessions throughout the year, geared toward children ages 2 to 4," Babcock says. "Children's Day, held this year on Sunday, Sept. 11, is one of Ladew's most popular events, but the Ladew Summer Concert Series attracts many families on Sunday evenings, June through August. The single factor making all of these events unique is their location amid Ladew's beautiful flower and topiary gardens."

Saturday's opening-day events at Ladew Topiary Gardens run from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ladew is at 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays and 10:30 p.m.-5 p.m. weekends. Admission, which includes the gardens, Nature Walk and guided house tour, is $13; $11 seniors and students; $5 children. Admission only to the gardens and Nature Walk is $10; $8 seniors and students; $2 children. Call 410-557-9466 or visit www.ladewgardens. com.

For more family events, see Page 37.

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