Meet Ann Green, the Rawlings Conservatory’s New Director!

Posted March 21st, 2019 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Community, Events, latest
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Article by Teresa Cook, Content Director | baltimorecooks@yahoo.com

Image courtesy of Rawlings Conservatory

Ann Green says she gets to work in a tropical paradise, so what’s not to like?

As the new director of that paradise, the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore, she loves to watch people’s reactions when they visit.

People are so blown away” by the plants and the building, and seeing that reaction is a real treat for her, she said.

Ann is not new to the Conservatory. She was the Volunteer Coordinator and Webmaster for seven years before her promotion to the top job.

Ann Green, Rawlings Conservatory Director

She’s always loved gardening. Growing up in the suburbs of Howard County, Ann said,

We three children were my mother’s and father’s little work horses. We did vegetable and flower gardening. It was the most fun chore there was, even weeding.”

Gardening has been a life-long passion since then. She tends ornamental, vegetable, and herb gardens in her yard in Baltimore, and cares for an extensive collection of houseplants.

With a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from St. Mary’s College and a master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Ann has a background in non-profit management and community engagement that she is eager to put to work to grow the Conservatory.

For her graduate degree, she had an internship with the Friends of Druid Hill Park and helped get the farmers’ market established. From there, she was offered the volunteer coordinator job at the Conservatory.

Working with volunteers is so rewarding! Their work amplifies what our staff does in really remarkable ways,” she said.

She appreciates those volunteers, too — “We have so many dedicated volunteers” who make contributions in caring for plants as well as providing programming and visitor services. 

Now in her new post, she said she’s extremely busy, taking care of the plants and the facility with a staff of just two full-time and six part-time employees.  “The staff are awesome.” And don’t forget the four-legged staff – Conservatory cat, Mango, is a favorite of Ann’s.

The programming at the Conservatory has made a name for the Rawlings, she said. Seasonal shows, cocktail events, children’s programming and other educational programs bring in visitors. Local art teachers bring students to do painting or illustration projects which are then shown in the Conservatory. It’s a busy place, even on a winter afternoon.

For the future, Ann said a big capital project is in the planning stages: The original 130-year-old glass Palm House needs renovation. Re-design of the outdoor gardens and enclosing it in a deer-proof fence is another hoped-for improvement on her wish list.

Ann invites visitors to keep coming back. “The Conservatory changes all the time, even if you’ve been here, there is something different in bloom now. It’s a wonderful place to visit throughout the year.”

Spring events coming up at the Rawlings Conservatory

Image courtesy of the Rawlings Conservatory

“The Gnome and Garden Show” – April 6-21. The Conservatory’s annual spring show features hundreds of flowers grown from bulbs arranged with other spring plants and, this year, a scattering of garden gnomes. See how many little guys you can find among the blooms! Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

Tree Baltimore’s Fruit Tree Fair, noon – 3 p.m. April 13. This year’s family-friendly atmosphere features a fruit tree giveaway, nature play space for kids, various environmental and community non-profit groups, food, and drink. Local emcee Alanah Nichole introduces various artists of all ages performing spoken word poetry and live music. Visit the vendor tents to learn about honey bees and native pollinators, plants for the orchard, and more! 

Community Gardening Day – May 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Help other volunteers, students and community members plant the outdoor gardens at the Conservatory and enjoy lunch provided by the Friends of the Rawlings Conservatory.

Visit Rawlingsconservatory.org for details on these and other events.

The Rawlings Conservatory “An empty pot is just a pot full of wishes!”

Posted June 21st, 2018 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Community
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Kate Blom accepting Rawlings Conservatory plaque by Tanglewood Conservatories

 

An empty pot is just a pot full of wishes,” Kate Blom says. Her response is to think, “Okay let me make you beautiful.” That is what she did for the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore during her 18½-year tenure as director.

She was in charge when the Conservatory grew from an aging glass house with some dirt-floored greenhouses into one of Baltimore’s jewels. Major renovations in 2004 preserved the original Palm House, dating to 1888, and updated the greenhouses that now house plants from three climates – Mediterranean, tropical and desert.

As she retired from her post this month, Kate looked back on the changes and fun times. “It’s been great. I’m grateful to so many people along the road, lots of good people.”

She started in December 1999 when the renovations were still just plans. “We were programming as best we could, getting ready for renovations, figuring out what plants to keep.”

The groundbreaking in 2002 is one of her favorite memories. And the grand re-opening in 2004 was even better.

“When the first school buses came after the renovation, it made me cry,” she said. “I thought, ‘they’re coming!’”

She’s especially proud of the Conservatory’s programs for children, such as Little Leaves, which brings city second graders to the Conservatory to discover and learn about plants.

“Little Leaves is just incredible … Watching a kid look at a banana tree and get it.” She said she always wanted to work with children and the Conservatory programs now are “really changing lives, making a difference. That’s always important.”

 

Among her many memories, she recalls the day a big limousine arrived and out stepped Maryland Comptroller and former governor and mayor William Donald Schaefer. “I gave him a tour, showed him our plans. He was pleased. That was nice.” Then there was the time she looked at the guest book to see it had been signed by Oprah, who wrote “My Baltimore!” As Kate said, “Darn, I missed her.”

She learned that it’s not so bad to hold a boa constrictor, when she helped save one that was found freezing outside the Conservatory. And she had lots of fun putting on the annual poinsettia and spring flower shows. She recalls the Conservatory getting its own web page and how that “put us on the map.”

The conservatory is a popular wedding venue now, with at least one every week, sometimes two or three.

And of course, there are the plants. She was “seeing something new every day,” different plants blooming, some for the first time since being planted.

In all, she said, it’s been “A wonderful job. The best in the city.

And it wasn’t her first career. Kate was born in Baltimore and graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism. It was the time of the Pentagon Papers news and Kate was determined to get a job at the Washington Post. “Katherine Graham was a big hero for me.” She managed to get hired as a copy aide first, and then spent 22 years in advertising sales. When she moved to Baltimore, the commute and family obligations proved to be too much and she decided to do something different.

She’d always liked plants, watching watermelon seeds grow into a plant when she was a child, filling her home with plants. So she took courses at Dundalk Community College in horticulture, took Master Gardener classes and worked in nurseries. After visiting public gardens with her classes, she decided that is where she wanted to work. Then she landed the job at the Conservatory.

As for retirement, Kate is enjoying the free time now, working in her own garden and helping her sister who is dealing with illness. She also has a son and two grandchildren she can spend time with and she wants to hang out and travel with her longtime friend, Maggie. “I feel lighter in many ways; my priorities are where they should be.”

 

Her wishes for the Conservatory? She has a potful.

First is the renovation of the historic Palm House with “a 100-year fix, not just a 20-year Band Aid.” Plans for a feasibility study are underway now.

She’d also like to see the fulfilling of the master plan for more space, another building for administration, space for shows. More children’s programs, more staff. “I just want more of everything, bigger gardens,” she said.

“I really think Baltimore deserves and should have a first-rate Conservatory and botanical garden. It helps a city grow.”

 

By Teresa Cook, Rawlings Conservatory | www.rawlingsconservatory.org/

Camellia Display & Historic Look at Baltimore’s Horticulture Past

Posted February 14th, 2012 by Alan Stein and filed in General
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Now thru 2/26/2012 – “The Camellia Display & Historic Look at Baltimore’s Horticulture Past” is the theme of a new show at the Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD. Surround yourself with beautiful flowering camellias and stroll through an exhibit showcasing Baltimore’s rich and varied horticultural past.

Come learn the hidden secrets of Baltimore City’s great conservatories of the early 1900’s. As the single remaining conservatory of six that were once located in Baltimore City, the warm and wonderful Rawlings Conservatory is a green oasis in Druid Hill Park, with permanent collections of exotic plants from all over the world

Before automobiles and television, people flocked to their public parks to escape the bustle of daily life. Today more than ever, an afternoon spent at Rawlings Conservatory will feed your soul and rejuvenate your outlook.

The show is open Wednesday – Sundays, 10am to 4pm, through February 26. For more information, call 410-396-0008. The Conservatory is located in Druid Hill Park at the intersection of McCulloh Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway.

To view the event flyer with details, please click the image: