A community effort has given curb appeal to Our Shepherd Lutheran Church with a landscaping makeover of native plants. The Bayside Bloomers Garden Club of Severna Park, a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland and National Garden Clubs Inc., and its community partners, gathered with shovels, rakes and dozens of native trees and shrubs on the front lawn of the church on September 30 to execute the final steps in Operation Plant Native.
The project was made possible by a grant awarded by Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that funds volunteer-led projects that use the power of native plants to address issues like stormwater runoff, pollution and habitat loss.
“When the Bloomers discussed ideas for a community service project, choosing Our Shepherd was an easy decision,” said Suzanne Lewis, a club member and project lead.
Our Shepherd Lutheran is a founding church of Serving People Across Neighborhoods, or SPAN, the local food pantry and emergency assistance network, which helps residents through critical and emergency situations. The church also supports a preschool, and it opens its doors to groups such as garden clubs and Boy Scouts. The Bayside Bloomers has met monthly at the church since 2015 at no charge.
For an expert garden blueprint, The Bayside Bloomers consulted with Alison Milligan, a nationally known expert and champion of native plants, who serves as a Maryland Master Gardener, Master Naturalist and an Anne Arundel County Watershed Steward. This collaboration resulted in a landscape design of 70 native shrubs and trees selected specifically for the front foundation site conditions, a critical consideration when installing any plant. To prepare the plant beds encompassing approximately 1,400 square feet, the club faced the removal of invasive vines with roots embedded in weed-barrier fabric and stumps connected to thick, deep roots.
The Bloomers reached out to other passionate native plant advocates to form a project team, including volunteers from the Good Neighbors Group and Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, along with landscapers from the Maryland Reentry Resource Center and individual native-plant devotees. Individuals and commercial donors have also contributed numerous gardening supplies. Anne Arundel County Farm, Lawn, and Garden Center LLC, Homestead Gardens, and Patuxent Nursery have donated compost, fertilizer and mulch. The church and garden club also kicked in additional funds, and Boy Scout Troop 918 dug holes and planted shrubs as they worked toward their community service and conservation badges.
“It is truly heartwarming to witness the coming together of dozens of committed individuals from six nonprofit organizations and three local businesses to create a lovely garden that provides habitat and food for local wildlife and pollinators,” Lewis said. “… We are passionate about restoring the character of our county’s natural history through the diversity and genetic heritage of its native plants.”