Volunteers gathered to plant eleven native trees along the entrance to the Visitor’s Center at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland this March. The trees were donated by District I (Eastern Shore) of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland with funds from the Alice Rush McKeon Trust. The monies from this Trust are distributed on a rotating basis to each of the five garden club districts of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Alice Rush McKeon, a noted environmentalist and author, was a direct descendant of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Born in Philadelphia in 1884, Alice grew up in Maryland where she twice served as President of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland. She spearheaded a national campaign to pass legislation that prohibited billboards on Maryland’s highways. During World War II, Alice hosted “Garden Clubs on the Air” on WBAL, which became known as “Victory Gardens.” Alice is also credited with coining the term “Litterbug.” The slogan “Don’t be a Litterbug” is often employed even today.
The planting effort at Blackwater was a partnership between Jan Kirsh, a notable landscape designer and sculptor from Talbot County and several Eastern Shore landscaping companies. Jan volunteered her services, making the recommendation of the appropriate native tree selection (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Tupelo Tower’ or Black Gum), acquiring the trees from Tideland Gardens, a Chestertown Nursery, and engaging three local landscapers who provided their staff and services pro bono to plant the trees. Ryan Yost of Long Branch Landscapes, LLC in Denton, Mark Beaven of Exterior Enhancements, Inc. also in Denton and Jess Murphy of J.M. Landscapes & Associates in Claiborne all participated in what they deemed a good cause for the community. In attendance to help celebrate the planting event were David Adams, Dorchester Garden Club President, Jeanne Bernard, FGCMD District I Director and Doris Key, immediate past Director of District I.