Possible move to Baltimore: gardening scene?

michael_in_chicago(z5)August 4, 2008

I can't tell you how many places I *might* be transferred to (or not) at this point, but one might be Baltimore, and of course I want to know about the garden scene there: where to get good sized properties for gardening, garden groups, nurseries, etc.

I'm in a north burb of Chicago, and there isn't much going on gardening-wise compared to New England, West Coast, etc. But what are some good "garden" areas to live? Your weather seems much better than ours, but what is it like there from your point of view?

We have a 33 x 122 lot and would love something larger, probably going for a house in the $500-800K range. Where might that land us? We also are city lovers, pedestrian/public transportation oriented, which might come into play.

Any ideas? Thanks!

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What part of Baltimore will you need to work in? How long of a commute would you be willing to deal with?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 7:16PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Baltimore is a charming city, you can find almost anything in the city or the surrounding counties.

I've not gotten involved much in the gardening groups, but there are garden clubs, there is a horticultural society and an orchid club. There is a nice conservatory in the city that has a good volunteer program that I used to help out with.

Downtown is much warmer than the outlying suburbs, as in most cities, I suppose. The eastern part is a little milder due to the influence of the bay.

You can find tiny historic rowhomes with little lots, fixerupper townhomes in "upcoming" neighborhoods, established shady neighborhoods with traditional colonials, plus any kind of newer home you might want.

Public transportation exists, but the subway and light rail only have a few lines, and they don't connect into a master system all that well.

There are some decent nurseries, although only a few really big ones that have everything you might want.

I've lived and worked in lots of different areas, email me if you want more specifics. It would help a lot to narrow things down if you have a particular area of Baltimore in mind.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 10:13PM
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Thanks, watergal, very helpful. Fritz, I don't know just yet and that's part of the problem. I have some options (including staying for now), but don't know the area outside of one visit years ago.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:47AM
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avoirgold(z7 MD)

Definitely need more info. If you want room, living in the city proper isn't going to work as well. Where in the city you might work matters too. If you are working downtown in the inner harbor area, Catonsville, Ellicott City, and Columbia offer ~30 min commute with some nice sized lots. I have .3 acre in Columbia in a single-family home (1970) for under 500k.

If you are working more in the north, Towson would be a better bet.

If you are willing to drive 45-60 min, you can get much larger lots in Mt. Airy, Westminster, Sykesville, and Eldersburg.

As for climate, Columbia is zone 7 moreso than zone 6. However, Mt. Airy/Westminster is more zone 6. They tend to get more snow and a bit colder.

Summers are HOT and HUMID. We are finally getting a break from temps in the 90s this week. Fall and Spring are LOVELY!! They are my favorite seasons. Winters have been very mild the last few years. Very little snow and temps ~40s-50s.

This is the place for hooking-up with fellow gardening nuts. We have two plant swaps a year, Spring and Fall. Spring swap is much bigger, but both are well attendend. Maryland has an active Master Gardner community as well. As for clubs, I am not as familiar.

Popular nurseries with good selection, prices, health of plants, etc. would be Behnke's, Meadows Farms, and Brookside Gardens.

I am sure others will lend their opinions and experiences. perusing the forum will give you the best ideas.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:56AM
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rhetrx(z7 MD)

Well, I came down to Baltimore about 18 months ago, and I managed to get a double lot inside the city limits. The yard was all grass, with a nasty, matted mess of fence-shrubs and weed trees, but I've been carving out beds for shrubs and flowers, and there were two fabulous fig trees flanking the back door.

There are houses within the city that have nice property attached, although not too many would have great tracts of land [though you never know....sellers are hungry these days...]

To explore Baltimore a bit, look at the website liveinbaltimore.com Look around Belvedere Square [Govans] and Roland Park for in-city areas that love good gardens. There are some homes near Springlake Rd that have gorgeous gardens and are near a series of goldfish ponds with beautiful waterlillies.

Currently my favorite garden resource in the area is Valley View Farms, which is north, past the State Fairgrounds, but Watson's in Timonium is having their clearance sale now, so there's some good stuff there, too.

Wherever you land, happy gardening!

Here is a link that might be useful: City living resources for Baltimore newcomers

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 12:32PM
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Definitely look at Guilford, Roland Park, Homeland, or Mt. Washington -- all in Baltimore City proper. Lots of big old houses with big yards and big old trees. And lots of things within walking/biking distance. Light rail and the subway are a bit limited, but there are plenty of buses. The only problem, alas, if you have children, is the Baltimore City public school system.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 12:34PM
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gardengranma(6a/6b MD)

For gardening on larger scale you might consider some of the areas along route 95 towards Washington DC. At the last spring swap we had 65 people, I think that is a good gardening scene, wouldn't you say? There are garden clubs in most of the communities. I just p[articipated in a water garden benefit for Shepperd's Table (a place for the hungry) and we had 60 to 70 people for that and I was invited to join two garden clubs, one in my community and one in Sandy Springs. Burtonsville is a small intersection settlement 20 mins from Baltimore with at least 6 garden centers in the immediate vicinity and another 4 or 5 a little farther away. Also, in reach is the Philadelphia Flower show, and that is a biggy.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 11:39AM
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Try Free State Daylily Society and the Greater Baltimore Garden Club if you move here. You will notice a BIG difference in climate!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:43PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I have to add my .02 cents about winter. Yes, the last few winters have been abnormally mild (which I love, because I'm into pushing the envelope with tropical plants). However, before that, there was a winter where it didn't break freezing at all for about 3 solid weeks in Jan/Feb. There are days in the 20's. There are nights down to 15, 10, 5, and even 3 degrees, often with biting winds. They're rare, but they happen (and I remember them because I DETEST the cold). I do live in Westminster, which is colder than downtown Baltimore by several degrees (I'm about 40 miles NW of the city).

But you're from Chicago, so I'm sure you can take it. Just don't be expecting a tropical paradise or anything.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:54PM
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Friends who moved here from Chicago said "cloudy days" when I asked them about the biggest difference between the weather here and in IL. They expected the heat and humidity, but the number of cloudy days surprised them. They did like the move up in gardening zones, they went from Z5 to Z6. Always a treat to grow things that were marginal there and are fully hardy here. Of course, after a few years, they were trying to grow Z7 things here, like many of us.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:50AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

That's interesting Dzitmoidonc. Because this map says that Baltimore is actually less cloudy than Chicago:


But I do have a hard time believing that. My gut instinct is that the only time of the year I think Chicago could be cloudier would be spring - spring generally being the only season when the midwest has higher precip that the east and southeast. Certainly the climatological winter (DJF) precip is higher along the east coast than anywhere in the midwest. But even though January has 2.9 inches of rain in Baltimore and only 2.0 inches in Chicago, Baltimore has 155 hours of sunlight to 135 hours in Chicago. Lest you chalk that up to latitude, know that Sioux City has both cities beat at 170 hours in January. Anyhow, by summer time, yes, of course Chicago is slightly sunnier than Baltimore...no coastal low pressure systems to contend w/in Chicago. But not by much. The biggest difference is June, which has 270 sunlight hours in Baltimore, and 310 in Chicago. Compare to 180 in London, and 160 in gloomy Glasgow.

So Chicago is on the edge of the Great Lakes climate, and the Great Lakes climate is cloudy by US standards. The only area as cloudy is the PNW, though in the PNW at least the summers are sunny; in the Great Lakes it's year round. And of course, nowhere in the US is as cloudy as parts of NW Europe, but that's another story.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.eldoradocountyweather.com/climate/US Climate Maps/Lower 48 States/Sky Cover - Visibility/Mean Number of Cloudy Days Sunrise to Sunset/Gallery/mean-number-of-cloudy-days-sunrise-to-sunset.html

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Wed, Nov 13, 13 at 11:15

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 10:58AM
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