Travel along Rigdon Road in Jarrettsville, and you'll see the green of residential lawns alternating with the brown of plowed farm fields, but if you pass Jeanne Weiss' property, you'll also see shades of blue, orange, pink, yellow, red and white, where Weiss has covered sections of her land with flowers of all stripes.
The flower gardens spread around her property are the result of more than 20 years of toil. The beds include a variety of flowers, such as Asiatic, Oriental, tiger and trumpet lilies, along with daisies, roses, coneflowers, marigolds, Russian sage, liatris, Veronicas and portulacas.
"I call it, 'My American cottage garden,' " Weiss said.
Weiss said she plants perennials, which can be planted once and bloom each year, and are drought resistant. She also prefers flowers that bloom during the summer.
"It's mainly a summer garden," she said. "I do have some spring flowers, but I love the summer flowers; they're my favorites."
Weiss, who lives in her childhood farmhouse with her mother, Theresa, said she started planting flowers during the early 1990s at the suggestion of her late father, Charles.
Her father died 11 years ago, Weiss said.
She said a diseased holly tree had been removed from the front yard, and she was struggling to get grass to grow in the tree's place.
"My father said, 'Put some flowers in there,' and it just took off from there, and ever since I've always liked flowers."
Weiss gave a tour of her gardens Saturday afternoon. Flower beds run along her Rigdon Road property, along her private driveway and much of the front yard.
The front yard garden includes several decorative gates, statues, an American flag and a bird feeder. Insects, including many butterflies and bumblebees, flitted from one blossom to another.
Weiss said her flowers are also popular with birds such as hummingbirds and American goldfinches. She said the hummingbirds go for her trumpet lilies, and the goldfinches favor the cone flowers.
"It's really neat to watch them sit and eat the cone flower seeds, actually sit on the heads and try to get the seeds out," she said.
Flower beds have also been planted along the side yard and the edge of a farm pond.
"Every year, it just kind of evolved and got bigger and bigger and bigger to what it is now," Weiss said. "I just love flowers."
Weiss, a registered nurse in the emergency department at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, said she does not have any formal training in gardening.
She chooses the plants that are her "personal preference" when she is adjusting her gardens' color scheme each year, and she compares notes with friends who also have flower gardens.
"This has all been trial and error over the years," she said.
The gardens do not require a lot of maintenance, since most of the flowers do not need to be watered every day.
Weiss said she spreads mulch – which she obtains from her neighbors, the Rigdon family – during the spring, and then she weeds the flower beds during the summer.
"Basically, in the summer, I just wander through once a week and weed," she said.
Weiss' family raised about 300 head of sheep on the property when she was young, but now the fields are leased to a farmer. Her father had retired from Martin Marietta, where he worked on experimental aircraft and Mercury space rockets.
Her mother is a retired homemaker, and she worked on the house and buildings on the farm when Weiss was growing up.
Weiss is not married, and she does not have children, but she hopes that her young nieces, who live nearby, will help her with the flowers as they get older.
"To me, it's not work," she said. "I enjoy it, and once you get it mulched and get it weeded, it's really not a lot to take care of."