About Us

The Horticulture Society of Maryland is a non-profit organization 501 (c)(3) that welcomes gardening enthusiasts of all levels and interests to join us as we expand our knowledge of horticulture through lectures, trips, workshops and shared experiences. If you want to become a better gardener, meet plant experts, visit beautiful gardens and become part of an organization that supports  community horticultural programs and education, come see for yourself what all the fun is about!

Past Presidents of HSM, appearing from left to right:
Max Bloom, Mary Jo Sherrod, John T. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Nancy Raskin, Peter Bieneman (current), Leigh Barnes, Muffin Dell

Our History

Highlights and More from Half a Century:
1969 – 2019

November 1969

Our Beginning:

Nancy Long Boyd and her husband, J. Cookman Boyd Jr., are hosts for a small group of garden enthusiasts at their home, 1000 Winding Way in Baltimore. The purpose: to organize a horticultural society.


April 5, 1970

The Society’s first lecturer is Ernesta Drinker Ballard, executive director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. According to Nancy Boyd’s handwritten notes, “At least 200 people attended, with much enthusiasm, and we felt that the Society had started off well.”

Spring 1970

The Society’s first newsletter—two legal-size pages, typewritten on one side only—makes its debut.

October 1, 1970

First Christian Church, 5802 Roland Avenue, becomes the venue for Society lectures. It will remain so for more than two decades, followed by various temporary venues until a permanent home is established in 2010.

June 13, 1971

The Society’s first field trip is to My Lady’s Manor, with stops at Breezewood, the Asian garden of Alexander Brown Griswold, Ladew Gardens and Bluemont Nurseries.


Bus trips gain popularity, starting with an annual visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Future trips will take members to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and to the Eastern Shore, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina (to name just a few).


March 1980

The Society honors the late Robert Lewis Baker, a founding member and assistant professor of horticulture at the University of Maryland, by recreating part of his Federal Hill garden at the Baltimore Flower and Garden Show. For many years thereafter, the Society will sponsor the Baker Memorial Lecture to raise money for the Baker Scholarship for Maryland students of landscape architecture.


Society membership climbs above 200 for the first time.

Spring 1989

Member tours of area gardens are self-directed. The newsletter lists gardens “willing to welcome” Society members: four are “open anytime,” seven will open “within an hour’s notice,” and 12 will need to be notified “well ahead.”



The annual Members’ Garden Tour becomes a more formal, one-day event, taking place rain or shine.


October 1, 2001

“Eastern Shore Gardens by Oehme and van Sweden,” a trip so memorable that old-timers mention it still.


The Society, the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, the Cylburn Arboretum Association and Baltimore Recreation and Parks unite to plan for a horticultural program center at Cylburn. A $1 million gift from Pauline Vollmer, in the name of the Society and the Federated Garden Clubs, spurs the fundraising efforts. (The center will be named in her honor.)


Helene Clapperton, the Society’s longtime treasurer, develops mdhorticulture.org, the Society’s web site.


The Society offers tours abroad: a Holland Bulb Tour, April 25-May 4, and an English Garden Tour May 24-June 7. Such trips become a regular offering of the Society in conjunction with the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland.


March 6, 2010

The Society’s first annual award for “Best Garden Design Utilizing Plants With a Purpose” goes to Jeff Sachs of Kroh’s Nursery in Aberdeen for his display at the Maryland Home and Garden Show.

March 9, 2010

The first lecture at the Vollmer Center features Wolfgang Oehme and Carol Oppenheimer. Topic: “Daring Joyous Landscapes.” The event draws 220 people. “We’re now holding our monthly meetings in the raw space while looking forward to the completion of the beautiful building,” says Society President Mary Jo Sherrod.

May 1, 2010

The grand opening of the Vollmer Center features a ribbon-cutting and dedication, a reception for donors and a lecture.

Summer 2011

The Society joins the Federated Garden Clubs and the Cylburn Arboretum Association to sponsor a garden intern at Cylburn. Each organization pays $2,500.

February 25, 2012

The Society and the Perennial Plant Association co-sponsor the first Winter Seminar, with five speakers. The seminar will become a popular annual event, and a scholarship given in memory of Sidney Silber will allow a horticulture student to attend free of charge.

May 2012

The Society holds its first annual tool drive, gathering donations of garden implements to help support community garden groups.

Summer 2012

The Society’s newsletter gets a new name, THE HORT REPORT, and a new look that features two-color capability.

January 2014

The Society holds its first members-only January Plant Forum.

September 9, 2014

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other dignitaries dedicate the Vollmer Center Entrance Garden. The garden was designed by John Fitzpatrick and planted by Gibson Landscapes in the spring and summer of 2014.

May 31, 2015

Doug and Tsognie Hamilton open Tashiding, their stunning Baltimore County garden, to members. The event is a fund-raiser for the Vollmer Center Entrance Garden.

September 25-27, 2015

Jean Silber, moving away from the remarkable garden she established with her husband Sidney in Lutherville, sells many of its plants, trees and shrubs to benefit the Society.

January 2017

The Hort Report publishes its first full-color issue, just in time to do justice to a Plant Profile picture of Spigelia marilandica, Indian Pink. 

April 18-19, 2018

Fergus Garrett, head gardener at the world-famous Great Dixter in Sussex, England, discusses “Designing With Plants the Great Dixter Way.”

July 7, 2019

The Society marks its 50th anniversary with a celebration at Cylburn.