On Saturday, June 10 Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s Tour, Toast & Taste will be held at Chip and Sally Akridge’s Harleigh on Oxford Rd. The event will afford guests a rare look inside Harleigh and a great opportunity to socialize and add culinary adventures to their social calendars for the upcoming year.
Each year, Pickering Creek selects one of Easton’s finest estates to host its largest fundraiser of the year. The event includes a home tour, food, drink, entertainment, live and silent auction and an opportunity to purchase seats at unique events held throughout the year. In 2017, the Tour, Toast & Taste committee is extremely excited to have Harleigh join the list of other magnificent properties to have hosted this spectacular event including Hope House, Forrest Landing, Myrtle Grove, Wye House, and Knightly.
Fronting a tranquil Eastern Shore tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the property’s original clapboard farmhouse dates to the mid-1800s. But it wasn’t until 2007, that the couple initiated an extensive renovation with the Baltimore architectural and design firm Johnson/Berman.
The team lavished equal attention on the estate’s grounds, which swelled as the Akridges acquired surrounding agricultural parcels that had been destined for high-density residential development. These days, a stroll around the property reveals areas of horticultural identity that are distinct and yet expertly play off of each other to create one of the most enchanting residential gardens of the Chesapeake region.
Under Sally’s direction, the English-style formal garden the beds are resplendent with hostas, roses, and stunning ornamental onion blooms that suggest an explosion of purple summertime fireworks. “This whole place is a canvas for almost any kind of expression,” Sally says. “We like to honor those who were here before us, because we’re just custodians for a while.”
On the opposite side of the house, Chip has modeled a huge kitchen garden and perennial bed after the ones tended by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Starting uphill and sloping toward the water, twenty-nine raised beds sprout strawberries, sweet peas, collards, okra, heirloom tomatoes, and Chip’s favorite—popping corn. “When I was growing up, my grandparents were big garden folks,” Chip says. “We always canned vegetables and it stayed with me.”
Beyond the vegetables are swaths of red poppies and chamomile in four small wildflower meadows, a transitional zone to the estate’s less-manicured environs. The Akridges have turned two-thirds of the commercial agricultural acreage back into wildlife habitat, providing terrific food and shelter for ducks, geese, songbirds, wild turkeys and quail, and bird watching opportunities for local wildlife enthusiasts.
Chip & Sally’s appreciation for wildlife and the need to improve habitat, which they have demonstrated along Oxford Road makes Harleigh a terrific location to celebrate Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s work to reconnect people with nature and their own role in stewarding the Chesapeake regions natural resources.
The evening of June 10th will begin with a guided first floor tour of the home, where docents will discuss the history of the home and the notable renovations and improvements the Akridges have made to make it the outstanding place it is today. Both Chip and Sally will be on hand to answer questions.
At the conclusion of the tour, guests will move to the spacious green behind the home overlooking the Tred Avon River to enjoy cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres while signing up and purchasing seats at a wide variety of dinners and events that will be held throughout the year. Dinners and events ranging from gourmet meals to themed ethnic dinners, local and historical specialty dinners, brunches, and Crab Feasts will be available for purchase. There is something for everyone, and they all benefit the conservation education conducted daily at Pickering Creek.
Naturalist and friend of the Center, Mike Callahan will conclude the evening with a special presentation of live raptors of Maryland. Callahan is an expert on barn owls and raptors and introduces the public to them through his work with Southern Maryland Audubon Society and Charles County Public Schools. Guests will have an opportunity to learn about the birds and see them up close.
This year’s Tour, Toast and Taste is generously sponsored by Chip and Sally Akridge, the Dock Street Foundation, the Frederick Richmond Foundation, Shore Bancshares, The Wilford Nagel Group at Morgan Stanley, Bruce Wiltsie and Bill Davenport, Chesapeake Audubon Society, Bill and Mary Griffin, Cheryl Tritt and Philip Walker, Richard and Beverly Tilghman, Jo Storey, the Star Democrat, Colin Walsh and Carolyn Williams, Bartlett, Griffin and Vermilye, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley, Clay Railey and Don Wooters, George and Cemmy Peterson, Wye Gardens, LLC, Wayne and Jodi Shaner, and many others.
For over 30 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has provided environmental education opportunities to students of the Eastern Shore, moving them from awareness of their watershed to conservation action in their communities. Since establishing a well-reputed elementary education program in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools 25 years ago, Audubon has added meaningful watershed experiences for middle and high school students to our continuum of education along with community outreach education about our regions unique saltmarshes. Pickering Creek reaches the people of the Eastern Shore throughout their academic careers outdoor learning experiences that encourage them to continue interacting with the outdoors frequently.
Tickets can be purchased online and more information can be found at www.pcacevents.org. For more information call the Center at 410-822-4903.
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