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The sky's the limit

March 06, 1997

Container gardening

Priest uses everything from wading pools

to five-gallon buckets in his rooftop garden

By TERI JOHNSON

Staff Writer

Gardening creates a joy that is hard to contain.

Don't deny yourself because you don't have a yard - just change your perspective.

Apartment dwellers or homeowners with little outdoor space can brighten their world through container gardening, says Father George Limmer, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

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If you have a window box filled with flowers or a flowerpot in your house, you already have a container garden, he says.

Limmer has been gardening on the roof of the rectory at St. Mary's for about 15 years. He lives on the third floor and creates a container garden outside his quarters each spring.

The dirt-filled buckets lined up on the roof of the second floor may look unassuming now, but soon they will be brimming with vegetables, flowers and herbs.

By the end of the month, Limmer will be up on the roof, preparing his containers for planting.

"I enjoy looking out at the plants and flowers growing here," Limmer says. "With all the blacktop and brick, it adds a little color."

He grows tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, onions, eggplant, squash and strawberries, choosing those plants because of their efficiency and yield.

"I experiment with things, and if they work, I try them next year," he says.

His flower varieties include marigolds, impatiens, petunias and zinnias. His garden also has included a dwarf peach tree.

Last year he put the herbs parsley, basil, dill weed and thyme together in one pot. He also cultivates lavender and Sweet Annie, as well as chives.

His garden attracts a lot of attention, and he often finds himself waving to passersby as he works.

"People that come into the church see me up there and ask what I'm growing," he says.

He tries to garden whenever he gets the time, usually in the morning or early evening.

His rooftop garden isn't subject to nibbles from hungry rabbits, although ambitious squirrels have visited. Limmer says squirrels have scaled the brick wall and buried nuts in the containers, then have come back digging for them later.

Limmer's lessons

Attendees at the third annual Flower and Garden Show at Hagerstown Junior College Sunday, March 16, can reap the benefits of his knowledge. Limmer will give the demonstration "Growing a Container Garden" from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. at the show, which is sponsored by Hagerstown Junior College Alumni Association.

Limmer, 57, has been fascinated with gardening since he was a child. His parents live in Baltimore and have had a garden as long as he can remember.

He smiles as he recalls the words his father told him:

"He said, `I just find it fascinating to start with a tiny seed and watch it grow, and know that God brought it forth to feed me,' " Limmer says.

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