How does your garden grow?

Tour provides a look at area plants and flowers

Tour provides a look at area plants and flowers

May 22, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Tim Valerio admits that when he is unable to sleep he has been known to wile away his time waiting for the sun to rise so he can tend to his flower beds.

Armed with a flashlight, he even checks his plants at night.

"They're my babies. You could call the plants my babies," Valerio said as he stood among the greenery and blossoms of the extravagant gardens he tends with longtime partner Doug Hutzell.

Valerio and Hutzell's gardens in Chewsville were among six private gardens open to visitors Sunday, and admirers shared their passions for plants during a tour to raise money for the North Hagerstown High School Class of 2008.

Despite gusting winds and threatening skies, sophomore class adviser Brooke Allen said she was pleased with the crowds that stopped by to see the gardens and buy $10 tour tickets at Hagerstown Community College.


"We're happy about the number of people that we've had, but I think the clouds came over at noon and scared everybody away. But, we're still pleased," she said.

Class president Gretchen Schoeck, who volunteered to help sell tickets at HCC with her twin brother, Otto, said the class hoped to raise $2,000 to $3,000 from the tour, bringing to about $8,000 the total toward next year's prom. The junior class traditionally pays for the senior prom, she said.

The expenses include music, photography and props, Gretchen said.

"Just a lot of little things that add up to a lot of money," she said.

At Valerio and Hutzell's house, some visitors were creating shopping lists of their own. For Hagerstown neighbors Joan Burkhart and Shirley Meyers, a wisteria tree was a must-have.

Though the women said they do not yet have a garden to equal Valerio's and Hutzell's, Meyers said they are working on it.

"If somebody asks me what I'm doing, I say, 'I'm playing in my garden,'" Meyers said.

The owners of the Village Florist, Valerio and Hutzell said they do not tire of plants. Valerio said he spends about six hours a day in his garden, and he never is far from home.

"When we close our shop for a week in July, we might take like a day trip, but my plants need tending, they need watering," Valerio said.

As he talked to visitors among his irises, roses and flowering trees, Hutzell gave credit to Valerio for creating what some called a "paradise."

Valerio does most of the work, Hutzell said.

"He's one of those people (that) wherever he visits, he pulls weeds. They don't have to be his own," Hutzell said.

While Valerio said he tends his plants day and night, North High teachers Connie Lenhart and Carol Kreykenbohm-Barnhart admitted they still are just fantasizing.

"We have the most beautiful gardens," Kreykenbohm-Barnhart said while she admired potted plants in Valerio's and Hutzell's yard. "In our dreams."

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