Volume 13, Issue 22 ~June 2 - 8, 2005

Lead Story

Letters to the Editor
Bay Reflections
Earth Talk
Dr. Gouin's Bay Gardener
Weekly Crab Forecast
Where We Live

Way Downstream

Bill Burton
Sky Watch
Earth Journal
8 Days a Week

Music Notes

Music Scene
Curtain Call
Movie Times
News of the Werid
Free Will Astrology
Classified Advertising
Display Advertising
Distribution Spots
Behind Bay Weekly
Contact Us
Submit Letters to Editor Online

Submit Your Events Online

Bay Weekly Summer Guide

Powered by

Search bayweekly.com
Search WWW

Feature Stories

Destination Chesapeake Country
Tour the Secret Gardens of Annapolis
by Louise Vest

Visitors to the Secret Garden Tour in Annapolis can spy fresh blooms harmonizing with new, darker foliage as a more verdant season approaches.

The six-year-old tour features the June gardens of a different section of Annapolis each year. This year it’s the gardens of Murray Hill you’ll tour to benefit the Hammond Harwood House, an 18th century downtown Palladian mansion and National Historic Landmark. As well as its architecture, the museum is renowned for its collection of late 18th and early 19th century decorative arts. Built in 1774 for Mathias Hammond, a legislator and planter, it is one of the oldest historic homes in Annapolis. Mathias Hammond’s brother John built Acton Hall in 1772.

A dozen or more homeowners — including 15-year owners of Acton House Judi and Bill Kardash — give over their fine-tuned yards for an afternoon to the causes of gardening and historic preservation. These plots of terra firma have each been orchestrated into intimate wonderlands that set the stage for the aria of even the humblest flower.

Secrets to Be Discovered
“It never ceases to amaze me how private the gardens are in Annapolis,” said Sue Fair at last year’s tour. A Carroll County resident, Fair attends the tour every year, bringing along family and friends. “When you are there, it is hard to believe that on the other side of the wall, just inches away, another family is also enjoying their garden.”

The secret of the tour derives from the way housing is situated in Annapolis. Many gardens are hidden in very small back yards. Many houses stand up against the street so the front view gives no clue to the treats waiting in the back. The surprise of the secret gardens is exponentially increased by the fact that accessing the backyards is often by walking through shaded, narrow passageways along the side of the homes.

The very pedestrian quality of these pedestrian entrances makes the first view of the gardens dramatic. After skirting the bulge of air conditioners and electric meters, discoverers let go spontaneous cries of Ahhhh.

Within their walls, the gardens complement nature’s expertise with human creativity. At one home on last year’s tour, on the back porch over looking the garden, an antique oak dresser was on display, topped by a tea pot full of bright cut flowers.

To give the same garden more depth, the owner set a mirror in front of a solid wood fencing topped by lattice. The lattice seemed a bridge, with the yard continuing on the other side.

Some gardens abound with garden art of bronze, stone and cement. Others show vegetables encircled by perennials or ponds full of fish, lily pads and water hyacinths. Pots of orchids hang on trees above billows of ivy. Flagstone and slate make walkways that might be flanked by trumpet vines and coral bells.

There may be backyard hot tubs and outdoor showers partially hidden by flora … or foot bridges … or splashing anthems from fountains.

In another small nook of a garden, last year’s visitors were greeted by the intoxicating smell of jasmine, which the owners insulate in winter by wrapping it in burlap.

In all the gardens, visitors can get up close and personal with the plants. Surrounded by blooms, eyes slide down a curve on a plump rose petal and slide up the union of purple buds of a holly hock, just as the breath of boxwood holds a perfumed duet with the aroma of lilacs.

14 Secrets; 700 Discoverers
“Last year we had over 700 people attend,” says Beth Dolezal, tour chairwoman and owner of a garden on last year’s tour. “We’re hoping to top that this year. We’re praying to the non-rain gods.”

The tour goes on rain or shine, and one year’s rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the tour goers, Dolezal said. The tour has become a huge success, for many an annual event.

The tour has also built up a following of volunteers who donate gardens’ secrets for sharing because their garden’s performance, though glorious, is short. Others offer time. This year some dozen volunteers handle ticket sales, eight or nine take care of the food offered near the end of the tour and 56 others are posted at the homes, two per shift.

There are 14 gardens in this year’s tour, which will cover half of the Murray Hill section of Annapolis, with both small and large gardens, many hidden behind iron fences, brick walls and picketed garden gates. Cobblestone and brick walkways lead into impressive private garden rooms and perennial island beds featuring interesting mixes of fountains, waterfalls, garden art, ornamental statuary and connecting pergola. One home incorporates a dog run into its garden; another has a play area for children. Two elegant waterfront homes overlook gardens bordering Spa Creek.

This year’s tour sites are within easy walking distance from downtown Church Circle.

1-5pm, Sun., June 5. In advance at Hammond-Harwood House: 410-263-4683 x 13, or June 5 until 12:30 at 1 Acton Place (near the old hospital off Franklin St.): $30.

1 Acton Place
This Year’s Secret Garden Homes

I. 1 Acton Pl., owned by Judi and Bill Kardash

II. 4 Murray Ave., owned by Robin Kane and Ron Schneider

III. 41 Murray Ave., owned by Marion and Peter Schilder

IV. 102 Lafayette Ave., owned by Katherine and Dennis Burke

V. 5 Steele Ave., owned by Joyce and John Hartnett

VI. 31 Southgate Ave., owned by Linda and Ken O’Bannon

VII. 7 Thompson St., owned by Louise Raphael

VIII. 10 Thompson St., owned by Janice and Gary Jobson

IX. 5 Taney Ave., owned by Susan and Gordon Woody

X. 1 Taney Ave., owned by Leslie and Steve Faust; serving home-made refreshments

XI. 9 Franklin St., owned by Barbara and Fred Tower

XII. 18 Cheston Ave., owned by Chris and Bob Friend

XIII. 2 Southgate Ave., owned by Mary and Gary Richardson

XIV. 33 Franklin St., owned by Julie Western and Will Bacon

to top of page

photo by Carrie Steele
Anne Arundel County Councilman Bill Burlison has just earned his sixth college degree, a Master of Law in Law and Government from American University.

You’re Never Too Old to Get Smarter
Councilman Bill Burlison dons cap and gown for sixth time
by Carrie Steele

Politics is not for the weak of heart. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to run marathons and be willing to try again … and again … and again if you hope to win election at federal, state and local levels.

Anne Arundel County Fourth District Councilman Bill Burlison, who has maintained a long political career in two states, is anything but a quitter. He’s lost as many as six elections in a row without losing heart.

He’s six on the plus side, as well. Burlison says he is the only elected official in the United States with six degrees: B.A. and B.S. in education, M.S. in education, J.D. in law and M.A. in Congressional Studies. The 74-year-old Burlison has just added the sixth to that unparalleled record, earning his Master of Law in Law and Government from American University with a three-plus grade point average.

When Burlison began the program two years ago, he was set to graduate spring of 2006. But a long commute to class — via the Washington beltway — to American University’s campus in northwestern Washington, D.C. made him accelerate his schedule by doubling up classes.

Dressed in a polished grey suit with a colorful geometric tie to celebrate his new degree at an American University dinner, the silver-haired Burlison explained that his new degree has “enhanced my liberal education in a number of areas in law.” Wife Mickey Prosser backs up his claim with her account of hearing stories about petroleum law while on a car trip.

Burlison is serving his second term as an Anne Arundel County councilman. He also works full-time practicing criminal law out of his Crofton office and is active in the local Kiwanis Club, of which he has served as president. Hard work and personal conviction are values he practices and proclaims.

“I’m accustomed to working days, nights and weekends,” said Burlison of how he managed his many roles while attending classes three times a week — with homework in between.

“My mom and dad went through school to the third and eighth grades,” said Burlison, who as a teen picked 400 to 500 pounds of cotton each day on the farm his father oversaw on the northern edge of Missouri’s cotton country. Both parents lived to see him claim his fourth degree.

So last week, when he gave the keynote speech at a pre-graduation dinner at Maggiano’s of Little Italy in D.C., Burlison — a “true renaissance man” by introduction — offered up wisdom from experience.

“Hard work, that’s my theme, as many of you know,” Burlison said as he addressed his 16 fellow graduates. With humorous anecdotes and animated gestures, Burlison recounted stories and offered encouragement for his classmates, now fellow alumni.

Burlison’s recipe for “being the best you can be” starts with the gift of average or above-average intelligence.

Second is keeping in good health. Burlison ran nine consecutive Marine Corps Marathons; he plans to run a 5K in Odenton the week after graduation; he also bikes and swims regularly. He doesn’t drink more than one cup of coffee a week and boasts that he’s never been to the doctor or taken medicine. “When I was five, I was on my deathbed, and my mother told me never to get sick again,” he says. That’s advice he’s managed to obey.

Third, being the best means staying determined and having a good work ethic. A little luck along the way doesn’t hurt, either, he says.

“Be the best that you can be, and do the best work that you can do,” Burlison said. “I am the best at what I do. I’m the best door-to-door political campaigner in the country.”

That prowess has won him two terms on the Anne Arundel County Council. The legislative body for the county passes ordinances and county code, as well as overseeing the police and fire departments, public works and board of education. Lately, Burlison’s work on the council has meant grappling with the charter school system adopted by Maryland. He’s deep into local politics now, but his real love is the federal league.

In 1968 Burlison, then a state prosecuting attorney in Missouri, was elected to Congress. He served 11 years. Even now, he quotes the Constitution the way others do the Bible. He knows his Thomas Jefferson and James Madison so well that he’s contemplating writing a joint biography on the founding fathers he describes as “so different physically and in personality, but politically and philosophically so alike.”

He adamantly supports the separation of church and state. He’s just as set against the Electoral College. While serving in the U.S. Congress in 1969, Burlison sponsored a resolution to abolish the College; his resolution passed in the House but died in the Senate. For his latest degree, he authored a 35-page paper — written out by hand and typed by wife and assistant Mickey Prosser, who was once chief clerk for former U.S. Sen. John Glenn — on overturning the Electoral College through the court system, using the Bush v. Gore election in 2000.

Burlison has a year and a half still to serve on the Anne Arundel County Council. Then, because of term limits, he’ll be out of politics — unless he seeks another office.

What’s next for this irrepressible political animal?

“I haven’t decided what I’ll run for yet,” he says. Whether he speaks of foot races or elections, he doesn’t let on.

This is one of an occasional series of profiles of Anne Arundel and Calvert County elected officials.

to top of page

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.