Site 9: Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden - Paper Birch and River Birch

Paper Birch and River Birch -- Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden

This garden was designed to reflect the variety of landscape types found in Maryland. From the sandy Eastern Shore to the mountains of Western Maryland, representative plants transport the visitor from a streamside landscape to a reforestation site in the short walk through the 5 acre grounds.

Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden is located adjacent to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Building. The best entry is by following the small green signs next to the building along Herbert Sachs Drive. The garden is barrier-free and closes at sunset. Many of the trees and shrubs are labeled, making a self-guided tour very enjoyable.

Just inside the garden entry is a large map to help orient you. From the map area, turn left to follow the path in a clockwise direction. On the right side of the walk you will see a 6 ton waffle rock from Garrett County in Western Maryland. The interesting patterns on the rock are caused by erosion of the surface, leaving behind the deposits of iron ore. Just behind the stone are bigtooth aspens, identified by their light bark. Further along the path you will notice several non-native Chinese elms with showy bark. Just beyond the bench, at the edge of the pond are two birches; the first is a river birch and the second a paper birch similar to the type Native Americans used for making canoes from the bark.

Rounding the curve, you will see the patio to your left. A number of attractive planters line the path with herbs and other interesting plants plants. The trees on the patio are Japanese zelkova, relatives of elms but resistant to Dutch Elm disease. As you continue around the pond you will see a cluster of yellowwood trees, native to the southern Appalachians, used commercially to produce a yellow dye. These trees flower at unpredictable intervals of 2-5 years.

Directly ahead is a circle of annual and perennial flowering plants that add year around interest to the garden. This area offers the garden a real splash of color during the spring and summer. Heading toward the bridge, there are numerous sugar maples. In western Maryland, and northern States, this species is tapped to produce maple syrup. Just before the bridge is a white oak, Maryland’s State tree. The historic Wye Oak in Wye Mills, Maryland is a white oak. Next to the bridge is an interesting bald cypress, so called because it sheds its needle-leaves in the winter. This cypress has its “knees” showing just above the surface of the stream. Actually these are projections from the submerged roots.

Cross the bridge and you will come to a secluded pavilion surrounded by azaleas and rhododendrons. This spot is truly spectacular in the spring when the plants are in bloom.

Continuing down the path, turn left to view the boardwalk area of the Eastern Shore landscape. Further down is a plot that demonstrates commercial reforestation with native loblolly pines. Backtracking a bit through the Eastern Shore area, you will complete your tour by entering the Western Maryland landscape.

To make this landscape more realistic, more than 40 tons of Greenstone rock was brought into the garden from Cunningham Falls State Park in Western Maryland. Next to the bench is a large pin oak and further along on the right is a northern red oak, an important lumber species and popular street tree. As you pause in this area of the garden, the sound of the pond fountain sounds very much like that of the many waterfalls found in scenic Western Maryland.

Next The last stop is just down Taylor Avenue from where you are parked. Turn right on Taylor and continue to the Gateway Circle where you will take the first street off the circle, West Street. The National Cemetery will be on your immediate right with parking just inside the gate.


Last updated on November 20, 2001.

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