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Groh tells how her garden grows

March 02, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Name:

Phyllis Groh



Hometown: Hagerstown

Where would you see Groh? Groh is counting the days until spring. With an almost 3/4-acre corner lot in Fountain Head, there is much to do to prepare for the growing season.

Groh and her husband, Charles, bought the newly remodeled home 14 years ago when they got married. The yard was a blank slate, except for some large evergreen trees, and now has a "little bit of everything."

Since then, Phyllis Groh has transformed the bare property into a feast for the eyes, adding a multitude of planting islands, walkways, a gazebo and birdbath. She admits it's too much to take care of on her own, even with Charles' help, and is blessed to have a young gentleman who helps tend the many gardens.

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"I've been interested in flowers all my life. I guess I inherited it," Groh said. "... You really have to like growing things and not mind your hands getting a mess."

Her mother always grew flowers on their farm on Reid Road, now Reidtown Road, about five miles north of Hagerstown. Groh said her two sons also carry on the tradition.

Groh said she was born in Beaver Creek and was one of nine children, but said most of her siblings died in childhood. She contracted tuberculosis when she was 14, but overcame it - her five sisters died from the disease.

When Groh owned the house at the corner of Pennsylvania and Maugans avenues, she sold her flowers and her younger brother's sweet corn from her front yard. She said her family was the first to sell Silver Queen corn in Hagerstown and had orders for the corn before it was even picked.

Wanting to conserve the color and beauty of her garden flowers and wildflowers, Groh, who said she favors pink flowers, began experimenting with drying flowers. She uses them in the arrangements and wreaths that adorn every room of her home, as well as the many pieces she has donated for fundraisers over the years.

Groh has sold her arrangements at craft shows but was shocked when one of her wreaths sold for $350 at a Maryland Symphony Orchestra fundraiser, concerned that the person who bought it didn't get their money's worth.

The Groh home has been featured on the North Hagerstown High School Holiday House Tour and Phyllis Groh said the house, with its four fireplaces, is beautiful at Christmas.

Groh went to school at the Reid School with Mennonite children, then went to Columbia College in Hagerstown to improve her English skills. She taught herself typing and shorthand, and worked at Fairchild for eight years before taking a job with Social Security. Groh had that job for about 20 years before she retired.

A member of the Hagerstown Lioness Club, Groh said she has hosted meetings at her house, but doesn't get to meetings like she used to. She also belongs to the Crossroads Garden Club, is a member of St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church and used to belong to the Homemaker's Club.

Groh's son, Adrian, lives in Washington state with his two sons. Her son, Gail, who works at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy, lives locally with his wife, Shirley, 20 cats and two dogs.

Hobbies: Flowers are Groh's main hobby, but she also like to buy and refurbish antique furniture, and used to paint for pleasure. Groh loves to read and said she used to spend the winter reading novels. She recently had eye surgery, but said it hasn't helped her eyesight.

What does Groh like best about Washington County? "We have the mountains, the beautiful farmland. It's close to the ocean, close to the mountains," Groh said. "I love the change of season, but this season has been disappointing."




If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024, or send e-mail to janeth@herald-mail.com.

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