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The Rocky Swale Project


January 20, 2022

St. George’s GC Supports Cylburn Arboretum Restoration Project

The city of Baltimore, Maryland, has an extensive and historic public park system. One of the most beautiful of these green spaces is the Cylburn Arboretum, with miles of walking paths through its collection of specimen trees. Built in 1863 as a summer house for a Baltimore industrialist, the Mansion House at Cylburn was identified by the Olmsted Brothers firm as an important potential parkland in their land-use review of the city in 1903. It was later designated as an historical and architectural preservation site and placed on the National Register in 1971.

Since 1982, Cylburn has flourished as an arboretum, a park, and an education center. Now owned by the city, the house is surrounded by a formal garden and features a modern conference center and greenhouses which help supply other parks in Baltimore with a variety of plants. In celebration of The Garden Club of America’s (GCA) centennial year in 2013, a grove of crepe myrtles was planted at the center of the grounds. The arboretum has continued to be supported by several GCA member clubs as well as individual club members.  

The most recent club project is a Partners for Plants effort headed by members of St. George’s Garden Club (SGGC). While the main gate and entrance into Cylburn had previously been redesigned and improved, the overgrown shrubbery and invasive weeds behind the fence needed work. A perfect site for a habitat restoration effort between the club and Cylburn Arboretum Friends. 

The new project was dubbed the “The Rocky Swale Project” and involved removing invasive species that have overrun the swale adjacent to the Cylburn Arboretum main entrance road. Beginning in 2019, the club organized work parties, hauling out truckloads of invasives and marking plants to save. More recently, the club has begun the first stage of replanting with native plants appropriate to the Piedmont zone of the Arboretum. Future plans, funded by outside sources, call for the installation of an Observation Platform with signage and educational information. The project fosters an important relationship between St. George’s Garden Club and the Cylburn Arboretum friends group, who will collaborate to assure the stewardship of the area as an important and prominent part of the Arboretum.


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