'Tis the season for outdoor live music concerts. There is the at the Avenue at White Marsh, the , and the , just to name a few. But a little further to our north in Monkton, Ladew Gardens has been hosting a Groovin' in the Grass concert series as well. The steel drum band featuring stilt-walkers is my mother's favorite. The Ladew concert series ends Sunday with a performance by Sweet Leda 6-8 p.m.
In addition to the concerts, Ladew Gardens hosts nearly 80 special events throughout the year and offers tours of the gardens and manor house.
Harvey S. Ladew, an avid traveler, artist and fox hunter, purchased the house and property known as Pleasant Valley Farm from the Scarff family in 1929. This 200-plus-acre property was located adjacent to the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club, which was convenient for his love of fox hunting.
Ladew renovated the house and had additions built on as well. The house was mostly completed by 1937, at which point Ladew turned his attention to the grounds. There are 2 acres of formal gardens, called garden rooms, in which each room is devoted to a single color, plant or theme. There are also more than 100 topiary trees located on the property.
Ladew Topiary Gardens opened to the public in 1971. Visitors can tour both the house and the gardens. In 1999, a nature walk at Ladew was opened, which is a self-guided tour of the gardens and educational stations.
As with many of Maryland's historical sites, volunteers are always needed.
"Our volunteers are the life-blood of Ladew. We have a small paid staff, but need volunteers to continue to serve the public," explains Betsey Barringer, director of volunteers.
Volunteers are needed to be docents—leading house or garden tours, to help with children's education, special events, special admissions and to work in the gift shop. Gardening, flower arranging, making crafts and sending mailings are other areas that need volunteers.
There is training required to be a docent and to be a children's education volunteer. Volunteers usually donate about four hours of their time on an as-needed basis. Current volunteers come from all over Harford and Baltimore counties, including several from Perry Hall.