Silver Chips Online

PTSA committee enlists professional gardeners for landscaping plan

Jan. 17 meeting scheduled to discuss landscaping suggestions

By David Jia, Online Blair Connections Editor
January 16, 2007
The Blair PTSA Beautification Committee is working on a master landscaping plan for Blair's exterior and courtyards. Though the landscaping project is only in its preliminary stages, it could potentially start construction in a year, according to horticulture teacher Leslie Backus.

The committee is currently asking for landscaping ideas on InfoFlow and aims to make Blair a better environment for students and a place they can be proud of, according to Charles Garlow, the committee's founder. Five professional master gardeners have volunteered to help design a general plan free of charge. A meeting is scheduled for Jan. 17 to discuss landscaping ideas and goals for the project. "Any students who'd like to come [is] invited," Garlow said.

"Right now, we are trying to compile information about the resources that are available and the needs and restrictions involved in landscaping projects," Backus said.

Potential ideas include an arboretum (a plot of land where different trees will be grown for display), staircases for the back hill leading down to the practice field and pathways to replace grassy areas regularly trampled over. The Helgeson Memorial Garden, planted in memory of Andrew Helgeson, is planned to undergo a repair and redesign.

History of the committee

Garlow started the committee two years ago to weed a circular garden in the main courtyard. Its 12 members, along with Backus' horticulture students, maintain the tree and plants on the school grounds.

Near the end of last November, master gardener Lisa Alexander, Garlow's friend, offered to gather some gardeners to discuss a master landscaping plan for Blair. After a Dec. 7 meeting, Garlow agreed to gather suggestions and support to insure that any of the master gardener's drafted plans will be executed. Though feedback from the staff has been solicited, the suggestions have not been compiled or analyzed, according to Business manager James Funk. Funk will be participating in this project along with Backus.

Parameters taken into consideration

When the gardeners outline a plan, Garlow will request a state fund or ask for charity donations. In the past, Terry Galloway, coordinator of the Tree-Mendous Maryland Program, planted trees around the campus for free. However, hardscape requires an application from Principal Phillip Gainous, according to Backus. Gainous, who was just recently informed of the idea for a landscaping plan, is "very excited about the whole program," according to Garlow.

Despite an abundance of ideas, there is a line between practicality and the implausible. Backus believes that any landscaping plan must be self-sustaining, since a future horticulture teacher may not want or have the time to water, weed and fertilize numerous gardens. In the three years remaining before Backus plans to retire, she hopes to build a patch of wild flowers in the circular gardens outside the Student Activity Center (SAC).

But beautification aside, 20 years with the Environmental Protection Agency has made Garlow strongly against polluting. "Where are the guys telling our students not to be litterbugs?" he asks. "I would like students to take pride in their school and pick up the litter that they see." Friends of Sligo Creek, a volunteer organization, may help remove invasive species once the plan is made, according to Garlow.

Though in another three-and-a-half years, all three of Garlow's daughters will have left Blair, he plans to continue the project. "I will still be part of the community," he said, indicating that he plans to come back to enjoy the gardens and play tennis.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/7122