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HCC blooms with garden show

March 21, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Pansies, green leaf lettuce and PJM rhododendrons filled a mulch and mushroom soil-lined landscape set in stone Saturday upon Hagerstown Community College's indoor track for the 10th Anniversary Alumni Flower and Garden Show.

The Ott's Horticulture Center design, dubbed "Ott's Bountiful Garden" - in line with "The Bountiful Garden" theme of this year's event - greeted nearly 3,000 people Saturday as the first stop inside the Athletic Recreation and Community Center.

The Chewsville horticulture center's co-owner, Joyce Ott, fielded questions from curious gardeners Saturday who stopped by to check out the design that incorporated a vegetable garden into an arrangement of flowers.

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"Some people have to actually see it and have the visual to do it themselves," she said.

But Ott sees something even more in the landscapes, pottery stands and dried flowered drapes lining the rows inside the college gym.

The event, which is coordinated by the college alumni association, benefits the HCC Alumni Amphitheater. Ott, who graduated from the then-Hagerstown Junior College in 1956, helped see the project to fruition as the amphitheater committee chairwoman.

Lisa Stewart, college alumni coordinator, said, excluding this year's event, the flower and garden shows have raised $178,000 for the amphitheater. The money has been used to pay off the debt accrued when the $1.3 million outdoor theater was built.

She said alumni take the event seriously. More than 90 alumni volunteers are taking tickets and working raffles over the weekend to bring more money to the cause, she said. Alumni even bought booth space to exhibit their crafts, she said.

"It's a nice marriage," Stewart said.

Everything from fudge and tacos to wind chimes and water jugs transformed the ARCC into a bustling marketplace Saturday.

Sarah Smith, 36, of Hagerstown, said she shopped alongside her mother, Charlotte Bendel, 63, at the event, which she's attended for the past six years. Carrying a series of colorful cloth woven baskets, Smith said, "We've done some serious damage."

She said she had made several trips to her car with handfuls of pussy willows, a dried flower bookmark and a Christmas present for her mother, one of four she said she's bought so far this year for the December holiday.

"It gets you in the mood for spring," she said of the event.

Hannah Elizabeth Coughlin, 3, of Halfway, nodded that spring is in the air.

Wearing a flowered construction paper and ziti necklace, Coughlin said, "I like flowers ..." and then trailed off, hiding her face on her father's shoulder. She said she liked the "fish," too, that she saw swimming in a nearby pond.

Her father, Bill Coughlin, 48, said he brings the family to the show every year and hears a wish for a pond from Hannah each time.

"Every year, I say we'll build a pond and we haven't gotten one in there yet," he said.

Although there were ponds at the show, a few spas also bubbled amidst the scenery.

Mike Minnick, 37, helped build and transfer 60 gallon tubs used to conserve rainwater for a project with the Scott Key Center, a Frederick, Md.-based center that provides job opportunities for people who are developmentally disabled.

Minnick said the tubs, which recycle water, are an important part of the garden show because without water, there can't be gardens.

"It's to keep the water in," he said.

The show continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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