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Welcome to the 3rd Annual

Towson Native Garden Contest!
2021 winners | 2022 winners

Learn More about us!

The 2023

Native Garden

Contest Finalists

2023 Native Garden Contest Winners and Finalists

Voting has ended

The Towson Native Garden Contest is excited to discover more beautiful native gardens, and we are thrilled to know more amazing gardeners are cheering up their neighborhoods with pretty summer blooms and the butterflies they attract.

 

We hope that more native gardeners will jump on board next year and enter our 2024 contest!

(Usage of the name Homegrown National Park® in this category is with permission.)

THE CATEGORIESHomegrown National Park® is for yards that approach or have exceeded 70% native plants, and also have made strides in reducing the lawn. Gaining Ground is for gardens where homeowners have been making significant progress to raise the percentage of native plants and still have room left to expand in the future. Breaking Ground is for new native plant gardens that may be fresh but are sure to make an impact! Seeds of Change is a category of special recognition for gardens that impact both the ecosystem and the greater community. 

Ben Aylesworth

Breaking Ground—Small

When he moved into his home two years ago, Ben decided to transform a bare, mulched corner of his backyard into a butterfly habitat. He started with the clay soil next to an existing fig tree and ordered a custom plant kit from an online native plant nursery. He used the included template as a loose guide for his design – something other novice native plant gardeners can do if they’re not sure how to get started.


In its second season, the bed is thriving in its full sun location between his driveway and the back alley. Because alleys are typically devoid of native plants wildlife need to thrive, Ben’s garden is mobbed with pollinators. Towering joe-pye weed and New York ironweed provide a background screen again the alley. Clumps of goldenrod, monarda fistulosa and mountain mint form a middle layer, with coreopsis and pink bergamot filling in the gaps. 


His native plants are thronged by bees, birds and rabbits. Ben has also saved mature trees on his property from being choked out by invasive vines. He is currently maintaining young native trees that were planted by Blue Water Baltimore for a previous homeowner.

Breaking Ground—Small

Breaking Ground—Small

CATEGORY: 

Winner!

Luciana Canning

Breaking Ground—Small

Luciana entered the front entrance garden to her row home in the contest. She has been working on the garden for two years. In a small area she has planted seven native plant species, which were visited by several bee species and a hummingbird during our visit. She also planted two native trees in the front yard, one of which has died and will be replaced. The entrance garden contains about 50% native plants, and Luciana will be adding more natives over time. She preserves the standing plants through the winter for four seasons of wildlife support. Native species include monarda, swamp milkweed, purple coneflower, and tickseed (coreopsis rosea).


Both Luciana and her husband, Adam, are very enthusiastic about planting native plants and trees to support the environment. She has knowledgeable friends who advised her on what plants to add to her garden. She has made an enchanting start to what is sure to be a Homegrown National Park® in the future.

Breaking Ground—Small

Breaking Ground—Small

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

Amanda South

Breaking Ground—Large

Amanda is not new to native plant gardening, but her yard in the Riderwood community is new to her and it’s impressive how many garden beds she has planted, and how many species she’s nurturing in them. Five years ago, when she lived in a rowhome, she decided to plant only native plants because of the support they provide to the butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife. When she began gardening in her new home a year ago, she created a large pollinator garden in her front yard, with several other gardens planted in the side and back yards, as well as a native garden by the mailbox.


Like her mentor, Doug Tallamy (author of Nature’s Best Hope, Bringing Nature Home, The Nature of Oaks), Amanda plants trees and flowers that will attract unusual butterflies and moths that she can’t wait to see in her garden. These plants include bee balms, milkweeds, swamp sunflowers, asters, tickseeds and honeysuckle vines. The native trees include king hawthorn, white oak and fringe tree, and native shrubs include American beautyberry, coralberry, rhododendron maximum and buttonbush. She grew many of these plants from seed, in some cases using winter sowing techniques.


Amanda practices sustainable landscaping by leaving outside lights off at night, leaving fall leaves and seeds in the garden over the winter, and when cutting back plants, carefully place any trimmings in piles for wildlife that may have been present in the branches. She is enthusiastic about her role in helping birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife to survive in a changing world.

Breaking Ground—Large

Breaking Ground—Large

CATEGORY: 

Winner!

Olivia Cumming

Breaking Ground—Large

Olivia and her husband have been in the process of transitioning their front garden bed from a grass lawn to a native garden. This has been done in steps, first establishing some larger shrubs and then bringing in more flowering plants like the beautiful blazing star that bees are buzzing about this time of year. The design of the garden is very intentional and complements their stone house with two curved walkways that separate the garden into four sections. 


After some research and conversations with plant experts, Olivia planted in groups of three. This will create masses of specific plants that will fill in as the plants mature. Planting this way is also great for pollinators, once they find the specific plant they are looking for they can feed longer conserving energy! 


There are four native trees in the front yard that are beginning to create a tree canopy for the birds. Other plants that are new to the garden are Brown Eyed Susans, Spotted Joe Pye, Gray Owl Creeping Juniper, garden phlox and Shenandoah Sweetgrass.

Breaking Ground—Large

Breaking Ground—Large

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

Deborah Snyder

Breaking Ground—Large

A year ago, Deborah Snyder cut her front lawn in half by creating a large pollinator garden. The garden features monarda, blue eyed grass, phlox, juniper, and native honeysuckle. She created the garden by ordering a woodchip dump from a local tree contractor. 


These chips have kept the soil moist during even the hottest and driest days of the summer. The garden features a lovely small pond habitat that provides sustenance for wildlife on hot days, and attracts many beautiful dragonflies. She has included some non-native plants for sentimental reasons, and their flowers provide nectar for pollinators who frequent her yard. A young apple tree and non-native cherry tree are also visited by bees and other insects, and late flowering Boneset offers its flat-topped flower heads to butterflies. The back yard is bordered with evergreen trees and has a native honeysuckle climbing a trellis.



Breaking Ground—Large

Breaking Ground—Large

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

Adreon Hubbard

Gaining Ground

Adreon was a finalist in last year’s contest, and she has made significant improvements in her yard since then. In the past year, she has converted a third of her front yard to a No Mow area with a series of native groundcovers, many of them flowering. She’s been dealing with a bad storm water issue that occurs when very heavy storms send hundreds of gallons of water rushing down her driveway and into her yard. After a rain garden installed last year by a contractor didn’t stand up to the first storm, Adreon asked several knowledgeable people for advice and realized she could do the work herself. She replaced a bridge over the first bioswale at the base of the driveway, installed a cement curb to direct the flow of water into the rain garden, and replaced a 3" by 10" river cobble “pre-filter” with native plants.


Adreon has planted dozens of native plants, shrubs, trees, and vines throughout her yard. Her goal is to find the right place so each plant will thrive, and walking through her yard is akin to going on a nature trail.

Gaining Ground

Gaining Ground

CATEGORY: 

Winner!

Mary Beth Collins

Gaining Ground

Mary Beth started to convert her all-grass front yard into a native garden in 2013. She started with a wildflower seed mix and, as a result, a large grouping of black-eyed susans is thriving. There were many pollinators on them while we visited. Later in summer the gold finches will come to feed on the seeds. The front yard also includes a healthy American beautyberry and some bee balm in bloom. In her side and backyard, she has healthy looking native plants, including elderberry, golden alexanders, itea and eastern prickly pear—a  native cactus that is often overlooked in Maryland gardens. Mary Beth has been growing hers for more than five years.


Mary Beth is extremely committed to native plant gardening. She has been immersed in it for more than 10 years and has been purchasing plants from and supporting Herring Run Nursery for all of that time.

Gaining Ground

Gaining Ground

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

Lisa Fritsch

Homegrown National Park®

Lisa was first introduced to native plants in 2019, inspired by another enthusiastic gardener. Two years ago she began to redesign her outdoor space, which was mostly grass and non-natives, into a sanctuary for our local wildlife. 


Since the spring of 2020, she has spent her springs and summers planting, transplanting, nurturing, experimenting with light and soil, and learning from and accepting the failures along the way. The front yard is very inviting with mostly shaded areas. She has a variety of flowering and non-flowering plants that fill a small strip of garden right next to her sidewalk. The sides of her home are in transition as she has kept non-native favorites that came with the house while filling in and replacing some plants with natives. When you enter her back yard you truly enter a charming room with flowers and other plants for walls. There are several sitting areas where you can take in the calmness of a bubbling pond and the commotion of many pollinators. Lisa has a compost pile and bird feeders to supplement food for the birds.


Most of her plants were chosen by referencing Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, Chesapeake Bay Watershed and by getting advice at Herring Run Nursery. Some of her favorite plants are golden alexander (Zizia aurea), elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), bee balm (Monarda didyma, Monarda fistulosa), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum), foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), joe-pye weed (Eutrochium dubium), goldenrod (Solidago rugosa, Solidago odora), lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina).

Homegrown National Park®

Homegrown National Park®

CATEGORY: 

Winner!

Kristin Bibee & Eric Nolley

Homegrown National Park®

Kristin and Eric moved into their home in 2019 and decided that they were not happy with the front yard, which consisted of a central entrance walk and lawn. They wanted to create a native plant garden that would be both a more attractive entrance to their home and a habitat for native insects and birds. The first thing they did was to plant a willow oak in the front yard, which has now grown significantly. They then hired Hand and Petal Landscapes to design their front garden, which includes a low stacked stone wall, two rain gardens, and more than 30 species of native plants, including a native magnolia and oak.


Approximately two-thirds of the front lawn and the entrance walk have been removed. The large variety of native plants provides three seasons of blooms, and attracts a broad range of pollinators and birds. Some of the plant species included in this spectacular garden are stokes aster, cardinal flower, butterfly milkweed, ninebark, swamp milkweed, penstemon, iris versicolor, bee balm, and  goldenrod.

Homegrown National Park®

Homegrown National Park®

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

Nancy & Skip Horst

Seeds of Change—Tree Stewardship

Nancy and Skip Horst began planting natives in 1995, when a fellow grad student – soon to be a landscape architect – designed their first garden. Their 1 1/2-acre property boasts many native canopy trees they’ve nurtured over the years, but their pride-and-joy is a magnificent dogwood (cornus florida), estimated to be 80 to 100 years old. 


Other mature trees include huge black walnuts along their property lines, eastern hemlocks, oaks, maples and a towering ash getting treatments (so far successful) to fend off emerald ash borers. They’ve planted a trio of river birch near the corner of a rear porch with hardy geranium, corydalis and black cohosh thriving beneath. 


Sweet bay magnolias and several layers of shrubs, including witch hazel, highlight a few different groupings. At the driveway entrance, a towering Magnolia grandiflora is on one side and massings of rudbeckia and packera aurea flank the opposite fence.

Seeds of Change—Tree Stewardship

Seeds of Change—Tree Stewardship

CATEGORY: 

Winner!

Jim & Nancy Andrew

Seeds of Change—Tree Stewardship

When it comes to nurturing native canopy trees, Jim Andrew downplays his role as caretaker extraordinaire. “Most of these were already here when we moved here [in 1973],” he said. “The only one I’ve planted myself is a pecan that I started” from a bag of nuts he bought decades ago at Lexington Market.


He and his wife, Nancy, are especially fond of a huge white oak in front that’s at least 100 years old (it was already there when the house was built in 1923). They’ve invested plenty of time (and money) keeping it healthy, and it has rewarded them with shady energy savings as well as several saplings that have increased in size (20 feet or taller) over the years.


The double lot also features a massive white oak in the back, as well as native dogwoods, hazelnuts, persimmons, hollies, pears and a large mature wild cherry. Numerous hickories are a favorite of the squirrels – including a flying squirrel that made his home here.

Seeds of Change—Tree Stewardship

Seeds of Change—Tree Stewardship

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

Greenbrier Community Garden

Seeds of Change—Community Garden/Park

The Greenbrier Community Garden was informally established in the 1980s as a memorial garden space to commemorate neighbors who had passed on. In 2009, Garden club member Shirley Carl and her husband, Dick Carl, were instrumental in working with NeighborSpace to establish and dedicate the garden as a permanently protected community space. Shirley and Dick recognized the value of native plants and ensured that natives were incorporated into the design, adding mass plantings of goldenrod and moss phlox among the trees and shrubs already present. 


In recent years, the group has made a conscious and continuous effort to educate themselves about native plants, pollinator relationships, and gardening for wildlife. They add native plants and phase out non-natives when possible (without disrupting original memorial plantings). In 2021 the Greenbrier Garden Club commemorated its 60th anniversary by planting a winter king hawthorn along with several inkberry and sweetspire shrubs, and the Greenbrier community met to discuss its ideas for further expanding the garden space in future years with diverse plantings of natives. The garden club also has intentions of applying for Audubon certification for the space.

Seeds of Change—Community Garden/Park

Seeds of Change—Community Garden/Park

CATEGORY: 

Winner!

Radebaugh Park

Seeds of Change—Community Garden/Park

Radebaugh Park has been transformed from an empty lot with aging greenhouses to a neighborhood park filled with native canopy trees, flowering native plants and curving pathways that invite you to wander. A community park that was created through the hard work of neighborhood volunteers partnering with Baltimore County, the concept of a neighborhood park in this spot began in 2016. After finding funding, the county purchased the property for a neighborhood park, and planted hundreds of native seeds in the designated meadow area. 


The first native trees and gardens with native plants were put in place through a Boy Scout Eagle project in 2019. The County planted 93 native canopy trees in 2021, and the Wiltondale Garden Club has planted native flowering plants in its gardens. Another neighbor waters these gardens, while the native trees are being cared for by volunteers who water them by bringing gallon containers of water to the park. A boardwalk along the Herring Run stream allows a beautiful view of the stream, and benches are strategically placed throughout the paths. This beautiful park is a wonderful example of the beauty that native plants and trees bring to a community, as well as supporting the local ecology.


Disclosure: Volunteers from Green Towson Alliance were involved in Radebaugh Park from its inception. GTA is a volunteer organization that does not profit from any of its volunteer efforts.

Seeds of Change—Community Garden/Park

Seeds of Change—Community Garden/Park

CATEGORY: 

Finalist

ABOUT THE CATEGORIESHomegrown National Park® is for yards that approach or have exceeded 70% native plants, and also have made strides in reducing the lawn. Gaining Ground is for gardens where homeowners have been making significant progress to raise the percentage of native plants and still have room left to expand in the future. Breaking Ground is for new native plant gardens that may be fresh but are sure to make an impact! Seeds of Change is a category of special recognition for gardens that impact both the ecosystem and the greater community.  

We thank all who participated last year and hope your gardens continue to prosper!

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