Women’s Civic League of North East Annual Secret Garden Tour

The Women’s Civic League of North East announces its Annual Secret Garden Tour on Saturday, June 8. The event takes place, rain or shine, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and features eight gardens in and around the town of North East, Maryland.

A self-driving tour showcases the gardens which include a charming town garden and waterfront properties with views of the North East River. Highlights include meticulous landscaping, water gardens, whimsical statuary, mature wooded areas, and late-spring floral containers. A new, highly anticipated feature will be a “ surprise culinary delight” at one of the gardens.

This annual garden event, sponsored exclusively by Nowland Construction Services, is the major Spring event for the Civic League. The League, established in 1951, is celebrating over 68 years promoting literacy in North East, particularly by supporting the North East Public Library.

Tickets are $15.00 in advance and may be purchased at North East Town Hall, Kathy’s Corner Shop, and Silver and Sassy on Main Street. Tickets are available for $20.00 on the day of the tour only at St. Mary Anne’s Parish House, 315 South Main Street, North East. Tickets include a map and driving directions.

For further information visit the website wclnortheast.org/upcoming-events/ or the Women’s Civic League of North East Facebook page.

Forest Music Returns June 6 to Adkins Arboretum

Adkins Arboretum joins the National Music Festival in presenting a unique improvisatory performance in the Arboretum forest on Thurs., June 6 when the NewBassoon Institute performs Forest Music.

Positioning themselves throughout the forest, within hearing distance though not necessarily within sight of one another, these innovative musicians will engage in a musical conversation that winds throughout the trees. Following the forest performance, there will be a brief concert at the Visitor’s Center. The program begins at 4 p.m.

Forest Music is free, though donations are welcome. Light refreshments and a cash wine and beer bar will be available. Advance registration is appreciated at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

The NewBassoon Institute is an annual workshop taught by “bassoon supergroup” Dark in the Song. The workshop focuses on contemporary bassoon literature, performance techniques and pedagogy, with the aim of teaching a new generation of open-minded players and bringing the bassoon and bassoon ensembles to the forefront of 21st-century music-making.

The National Music Festival brings together inspiring mentors and the next generation of gifted musicians, providing education, scholarships and affordable, adventurous public performances in and around Chestertown, Md., for two weeks each June. This year’s Festival is June 2–15. Visit nationalmusic.us for more information.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

House of the Week: Victorian Charm on Water Street

In her book, ”Historic St. Michaels, An Architectural History”, author Elizabeth Hughes documents fourteen  of the houses on Water Street as worthy of mention, including this distinctive house at number 412, the Walter A. Fairbanks House.  This house incorporates many details of the Victorian style such as its asymmetrical “L” shape, the turned post porch columns, fretwork and single -story bay window. Remarkably, the only design changes to the front elevation visible from Water Street are the addition of two dormers on the roof and the replacement of an attic vent with a decorative window. Current day buyers would appreciate the luxury of the two-car garage, a treasured amenity in the Historic District, especially during the summer tourist season.

The floor plan works very well-the entrance hall is between the front sitting room and the family room.  The dining room is connected to the living room making great spaces for relaxing with family or entertaining friends.  The vista from the entrance hall is through the wrap-around windows at the breakfast room to the screened porch and the rear yard. The kitchen, laundry room and pergola covered walkway to the two-car garage completes the ground floor.

The full front deep screened porch with its Victorian fretwork detailing is a great place for relaxing. The wood slat ceiling and wood floors add warmth and charm. I loved the living room with its bay window and furniture grouped around the fireplace. Windows on each side bring additional daylight. The focal point of the family room is the fireplace with millwork on either side for books and family memorabilia. The double circular mirrors echo the abstract art with circular elements. The dining room with another fireplace and its contemporary furnishings and more abstract art continues the interior design scheme. I loved the sleek galley kitchen with its cozy breakfast space surrounded by windows for views to the rear yard. Direct access to the screened porch creates another warm weather living/dining room.

The second floor bedrooms were quite spacious and I think the rear bedroom and  the rear dressing room that connects to one of the bathrooms creates a wonderful suite. The dressing room also has its own stair down to the kitchen area. The attic with its windows on three sides is a blank canvas for myriad uses.

A wonderfully preserved piece of St. Michaels’ architectural history with the best of Victorian details, great updates for today’s lifestyle, wonderful floor plan with appealing vistas, high ceilings with many tall windows for daylight and the bonus of a two-car garage in the heart of the Historic District- how could one resist?


For more information about this property, contact Cornelia Heckenbach at Long and Foster Real Estate Inc., 410-745-0283 (o), 410-310-1229 (c) or info@corneliaheckenbach.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

House of the Week: Where Michener Slept on Broad Creek

Being a history buff, I especially enjoy writing about houses with an interesting past. The Sellers told me they learned at their closing of their property that it had been christened “Traders’ Point” since traders traveled up Broad Creek to unload their shipments in earlier days.  Its most recent history is even more interesting since the Sellers also learned “Traders Point” had been a rental house and that James Michener stayed there while he was working on his master work “Chesapeake,”required reading for Eastern Shore residents.

On the day I visited, I drove down a gravel road that meandered through the woods with my windows down to enjoy the sounds of nature.  Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the trees and serene vistas changed from water, meadows and woodland around every turn. By the time I arrived at the house, all the day’s stress had dissipated and I was immediately captivated by the property.  I walked around the house and the panoramic views of the shoreline with very little trees to obstruct the water views was a very pleasant surprise.

The one and a half story house, detached large shed and detached garage are located very close to the water, a sought after siting that is no longer possible today with the Critical Area requirements. The Cape Cod Cottage style architecture tied the three buildings together in a very appealing composition. I especially liked the two elevations that faced the water-the side elevation had a center brick chimney flanked by pairs of French doors on each side and an octagonal accent window on the second floor. The long side has a shed roof that extends from the main roof to create an offset bay from the living room to the dining room that breaks up the large open plan and creates a covered porch off the dining room and rooftop deck above.

The entry door opens to a large room defined by the kitchen, sitting and dining areas.  Even though the day was overcast, the rooms had daylight from windows on multiple walls. I especially liked the sitting and dining areas with the color palette of slate blue and cream of the rugs, upholstered furnishings grouped around the fireplace and the accessories.  Older wood distressed finish pieces like the cupboard in the kitchen with a colorful collection of fish and crab ceramic pieces and the storage bench at the door were delightful accents and gave the house great personality.

The rest of the main floor contains a corner bedroom with double windows on two sides and a bath. The stairs to the second floor has built-in shelves with interesting collectables including wood figurines of Tweedledum and Tweedledee and several birdhouses. The second floor has a large bedroom with sloped ceilings, the octagonal accent window and French doors to a rooftop deck. Another bedroom and bath completes the floor plan.

This house works so well for a family with master suites on both floors but also has great potential for modifications.  If one wanted a larger main floor bedroom, the rear wall could be extended with wrap-around windows for a panoramic view of the landscape and water. The shed could become a screened pavilion for warm weather crab feasts or could be finished for all-season use by adding rows of windows that would increase its vistas to the water.  It could even be moved back to conform to Critical Area setbacks and connected to the main house.

Fantastic site, seventeen acres of privacy, two-thousand feet of water frontage on Broad Creek, a charming cottage that could easily be expanded, a large shed that has rough-in electrical and plumbing ready for its transformation, proximity to St. Michaels restaurants-what more does one need?  I’m buying my lottery ticket this week!


For more information about this property, contact Cliff Meredith with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-822-6272 (o) 410-924-0082 (c), or mre@goeaston.net, “Equal Housing Opportunity.”

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Memorial Day Event at Oxford Town Park May 27

Oxford Garden Club proudly announces a Memorial Day Celebration on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019 outside at the Oxford Park beginning at 10:45am.  This program will include the presentation of colors by the US Coast Guard from the Oxford Coast Guard Station, patriotic music provided by the talented Mid-Shore Community Band and a special, “Laying of the wreath” ceremony by the President of Oxford Garden Club President, Dorothy Williams and Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland District I Director, Doris Key.

This special patriotic program will feature key speaker, Lt. Colonel Jeff Unsworth, a native to Cambridge, MD., who has served in the United States Army for 31 years and has also served in the Army National Guard for nearly 28 years as an enlisted soldier, a non-commissioned and commissioned officer.  He has served three overseas deployments with Operation Just Cause to Panama in 1989, Operation Desert Shield/Storm to Kuwait in 1990-1991 and Operation New Dawn to Iraq and Kuwait in 2011-2012.  Jeff serves on Board of Directors for the Monarch Alliance which promotes native plants and gardens to assist pollinators, particularly the Monarch Butterfly.  Jeff and his wife Laura also operate a small non-profit called, The BraveHeart Program which seeks to assist veterans, service-members and their families.

The ceremony venue will take place near the Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker that was donated to Oxford by the Oxford Garden Club in 2007 in front of Town Park on North Morris Street in Oxford. Should rain be forecasted, the venue will be changed to the indoor venue at the Oxford Fire Company at 300 Oxford Road, in Oxford.  A sign at the Blue Star Marker will indicate the move the morning of the event. Chairs will not be required for an indoor venue.

If good weather prevails, this hour-long ceremony will provide a terrific picnic opportunity afterwards so we recommend that you bring your family, some chairs and a picnic basket to enjoy the patriotic festivities and the fine festive music provided by the Mid-Shore Community Band with the lovely views of the water from  under the large shade trees of the park.

The Mid-Shore Community Band is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization open to adults who play or have played band instruments, including high school students, if approved by their Music Director.  Founded in 2009. They often perform for many public events and sport around 65 members whose patriotic concerts and well known to many counties in the eastern shore.

Oxford Garden Club is a member of District I of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, Inc. and National Garden Clubs, Inc. and is committed to honoring those who have served our country.  The Blue and Gold Star Memorials Program of National Garden Clubs honors all men and women that serve in the United States Armed Services.

The Blue Star Memorial program began in 1944 by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs planted 8,000 Dogwood Trees along NJ highways to create a living memorial for Veterans of World War II.  National Garden Clubs adopted this program and began the Blue Star Highway Memorials system that covers thousands of miles across the Continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii.  Over the years this Blue Star Memorials Program was expanded to include all men and women who had served, were serving, or would serve in the armed services of the United States.  Blue Star Memorial By-Way markers were also instituted and continue to honor our service men and women.  These By-Way markers are placed in National cemeteries, parks, Veteran’s facilities and gardens. The Blue Star became an icon in World War II and was seen displayed on windows, flags and banners of homes, businesses and churches who had sons or daughters away at war.  A gold star reflected the death of a service person in war.

Oxford Garden Club is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  For additional information www.oxfordmdgc.org

Habitat: Atelier 11, the East End of Easton and Adaptive Re-Use

This year, the architecture and interior design firm Atelier 11 celebrates twenty-five years of design excellence in architecture and interior design.  Notable projects include the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Building Complex, the Talbot Hospice building, the Community Center at Londonderry and Evergreen Cove as well as numerous new residences, seamless addition and renovations.

The ESLC complex was unique for its sustainability and for its being a historic building that now has a new life to house the ESLC offices and other non-profits.  Glass interior walls encourage collaboration and the stained concrete floors and brick walls are preserved elements of the building’s early days. The building’s welcoming form, colors and sunny interior spaces of Talbot Hospice have drawn back many people whose loved ones spent their last days there. Many people return to visit the chapel or stroll the grounds and feel the presence of their loved ones.

The Londonderry Community Center was an opportunity to provide an environment for residents to socialize or to try a new skill including dance, art, crafts, or attend lectures to exercise the “little grey cells” as Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot, was fond of saying. Evergreen Cove was an opportunity to literally think “outside the box” of a brick rancher.  Atelier 11’s solution opened up the box to nature and is a peaceful setting for yoga and other healing arts.

What many Talbot County residents may not know is the firm has also made a significant contribution to urban design. When they built their office at 11 S. Aurora Street in 2002, the East End needed revitalization to eliminate vacant lots and to renovate the existing housing stock before structures deteriorated to the point that demolition was necessary.  They constructed their building in the middle of a vacant block and opened for business.

Slowly but surely other building owners or investors followed Atelier 11’s pioneering lead and rescued this neighborhood to give it a solid future. After completing their building, Atelier 11 added development to their list of services. They designed and built two new houses on lots near their building to knit the streetscape back together. Now that the Easton Town Council has voted to approve the creation of an Arts and Entertainment District, the availability of tax credits will ensure the East End will continue to thrive.

Their office building is also an example of how good design matters in creating a building that can adapt to changing economic times and uses. When the housing and real estate crash occurred in 2008, firms in Easton had to make painful choices about staff but luckily Atelier 11 retained core staff. They consolidated their office on the second floor and opened a gallery on the first floor.

After five years of having a second office in Lynchburg, VA, to add University work and downtown development projects to their repertoire, the firm converted their Easton building to a live-work space and relocated staff to a studio at the corner of Washington and Dover Streets. Now on the market, 11 S. Aurora St. could be a gallery/living space, a single family residence, or a commercial building. As Principal Architect Lauren jokingly remarked to me, “it is probably the only residence that has a fully compliant ADA bathroom on the first floor.”

On the day I visited, one of the firm’s associates, Tom Batchelor, gave me a tour of the completed construction.  I had always admired the distinctive front door mat created by embedding rounded edged stones into mortar that provides a distinctive way to remove mud from one’s shoes.  The former reception area now becomes a spacious entrance hall with filtered light from both the front French door and sidelights and from the stair landing beyond. The ADA compliant restroom now is a full bath with the renovation of an adjacent storage room for an ADA shower. The former studio space has been transformed and could be an open plan living-dining-kitchen or a studio area . The rear high windows at the South Street side of the building filter sunlight in while maintaining privacy. The former Principals’ two offices are now a bedroom and a den.

As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, we paused at the landing with its dramatic large window overlooking the surrounding neighborhood. I asked Tom how many buildings we could see that had been renovated since Atelier 11’s pioneering building. He told me the firm had actually compiled a map that showed over seventeen buildings which is an amazing statistic.   

The second floor now contains three bedrooms, one of which is a spacious master suite.  The overlook to the first floor has been maintained and also provides light into the hall from the window at the side wall. The master suite has a French door to a terrace with a stair down to the sidewalk along South Street and would be a great space for sunbathing. Opposite the terrace is the “Tower”, a two-story rental unit with living, dining and kitchen on the first floor and a bedroom and bath on the second floor.

Co-Principals  Jon Braithwaite and Lauren Dianich divide their time between offices according to who is the lead on projects.  The next generation of Atelier 11 will continue under the leadership of senior staff of Christian Chute and Tom Batchelor and support staff in both offices.  Happy Anniversary to a talented team of architects and interior designers who have been responsible for some of Talbot County’s best design work, and for the community service that is part of the firm’s mission.  Bravo!

For more information about this property, contact Kelly Showell with Benson & Mangold Real Estate at 410-822-1415 (o), 410-829-5468 (c) or kshowell1958@gmail.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.


Explore Local Farms on Adkins Arboretum Tours

Learn about myriad types of farming and conservation-minded farm practices when Adkins Arboretum offers a series of local farm tours beginning this spring. Six farms across the Mid-Shore will welcome participants to learn about their products and land management efforts and to engage in a hands-on project to take home.

The series kicks off on Sun., May 19 with a tour of Cottingham Farm on the banks of Goldsborough Creek in Easton. Join owner Cleo Braver to learn about food farming and the infrastructure required for crops, chickens and pigs before exploring cover crops, greenhouses and processing and storage spaces. Participants will also cut garlic scapes and make garlic scape pesto.

On Sun., June 2, join Carrie Jennings for a guided tour of her field-grown specialty flowers at Honeybee Flower Farm in Cordova. Jennings grows flowers without insecticides; by growing varieties not readily available from overseas, her operation helps to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. Participants should bring a vase or mason jar to create a cut flower arrangement to take home.

At Schoolhouse Farmhouse in Cordova, Lauren Giordano and George Burroughs follow a regenerative approach that includes minimal tilling, no synthetic pesticides or herbicides, and the use of cover crops. On Sun., June 23, learn how they use sustainable practices for vegetables, flowers and chickens. Participants will also take a walk through the meadow and create a hand-printed tea towel inspired by their surroundings.

On Sun., June 30, tour the organic cutting garden of floral designer and longtime Adkins docent Nancy Beatty. Owner of Sweetbay Designs, Beatty has grown her own flowers organically for more than 25 years. Participants will take home a tiny tussie-mussie made from greenery and mostly native plants.

Calico Fields Lavender Farm near Millington is on the tour schedule for Sun., July 7.

On their Calico Fields Lavender Farm near Millington, Christa and Jay Falstad grow their plants organically and tend and harvest them by hand to make high-quality bath and body products. Participants will cut their own lavender bunches and learn about the Falstads’ conservation efforts aimed at promoting native bee species and monarch butterflies.

A native nursery and garden center offering services and products that foster harmony with nature, Unity Church Hill Nursery & Farm has been growing produce, flowers, and vegetable and herb starts sustainably for the past three years. On Sun., Sept. 15, join Theresa Mycek for a tour of the food gardens to learn about the farm’s regenerative gardening methods. After the tour, participants will make a hardneck garlic “braid” to take home.

Each tour is $35 for Arboretum members and $40 for non-members. All tours run from 1 to 3 p.m. Advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information about programs, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Spy House of the Week: Serenity on Solitude

For the first time in forty-five years, this twenty-acre property is now for sale. Located between St. Michaels and Easton near Oak Creek Bridge, this unique property has a main house, large barn containing an office, two apartments and a loft entertainment room, Pole Barn and other outbuildings that offer myriad uses from a family compound to a mini-farm. The main house is surrounded by mature trees, landscaped areas, a pond with a bridge and nearby gazebo. The fork of the gravel drive leads to the barns and the other fork becomes a circular drive for the house. The wrap-around porch has a pitched gable to mark the entry flanked by brick steps. On the day visited, loquacious ducks were clearly enjoying a late afternoon swim in the pond. I sat in the gazebo nearby and enjoyed the serene sounds of nature.

I loved the geometry of the original house’s front to rear gable with shorter gables at each side. The wrap-around porch spanned between the two side gable wings to tie the composition together. Subsequent additions altered the original geometry by adding a family room and a ground floor master suite. The beautiful Georgia pine stained hardwood floors, the wood balustrade with its stained newel post and white balusters, window and door moldings are a few of the original details that remain. The exterior wall of the charming dining room is a full bay with long windows and a door to the porch. The second floor contains two other bedrooms and one bath.

The immense open plan loft of the barn is a delightful surprise with its exposed gambrel roof framing, high ceilings, Georgia pine floors and is the perfect space for a family reunion or other celebrations. Two billiard tables still leave plenty of room for the bar and seating ready for entertaining.

It is not unusual for a potential buyer to write a letter to the sellers in the hope their letter would sway the sellers if multiple offers were made. I was quite touched by the remarks of the sellers of this property who wanted to share their love for the property’s space, privacy, convenience and quiet that meant so much to them for almost half a century. Their description of sharing their property with wildlife from birds who daily feasted at several feeders to nocturnal owls to deer and foxes sprinting across the fields to the surrounding woods should entice another family to call this unique property home.

For more information about this property, contact jay Frost at Long and Foster Real Estate Inc., 410-745-0283 (v), 410-310-7623 (c) or jay.frost@lnf.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Holy Trinity Plant Sale on Oxford Day, April 27

With a beautiful, sunny day and the amazing efforts of Holy Trinity church’s community and friends, the Episcopal Church Women Plant Sale on the lawn of Holy Trinity was a bright and colorful welcome to all who drove into Oxford. This event earned about $3,400 for missions — the service and social benefits for Holy Trinity and the Oxford community are enormous. A little church with a BIG heart —- the best ministry of all! Holy Trinity Episcopal Church welcomes all.

“Thru the Garden Gate” All Seasons Garden Club Show May 20

The All Seasons Garden Club (ASGC) will hold its biennial flower show on Monday, May 20, 2019, from noon until 3:00 PM, in Sacred Heart Parish Hall, 510 High Street, Chestertown.  Attendance is free and open to the public.

The theme for the 2019 show is Thru the Garden Gate.  Floral arrangements in four design classes will be presented. Each entry will satisfy rules of a specific design category and reflect one of the following themes: Garden Creation,  Herb Garden, Tree House, and Garden Picnic.

In addition to the four Design Classes, there will be entries in as many as eighteen Horticultural Classes, which include dish gardens; window boxes; terraria; as well as individuals specimens of bulbs, evergreens, Columbine, Hosta, Lily, Peony, Rose, Iris, Baptisia, and Sedum.

The All Seasons Garden Club was organized in 1985 and draws most of its members from Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.

Diana Bonner, Kent Island Garden Club and past President of Maryland Federated Garden Club; Susie Middleton, Dorchester Garden Club; and Charlotte Hardman, Kent Island Garden Club will serve as judges for both the Design Class and Horticultural Class competitions.

Flyers describing the Design Classes for the show as well as other aspects of the judging are available by emailing Frank Creegan at fcreegan2@washcoll.edu.

Convenient and free parking for entrance into Sacred Heart Parish Hall is available in the lot at the corner of Calvert and Kent Streets.

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