Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage
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CALVERT COUNTY
SCIENTISTS’ CLIFFS

SATURDAY, MAY 7, 2011
10 am to 5 pm



This tour is accessible only via free minibuses departing from the parking field opposite 2420 Aspen Road, Port Republic.
No private cars will be permitted to enter any of the gates at Scientists’ Cliffs.
Houses and gardens in most cases are clustered, so that you may walk to them from the bus stops. Tickets the day of the tour will be available only at the parking field, where all participants will be required to check in.

Special Project: The American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT) will use tour proceeds to create a native plant garden, install benches and signage, and distribute educational materials about the many benefits of utilizing native plants in private gardens. The 3,000 acre Parkers Creek Preserve, managed by ACLT, is one of the last remaining large undeveloped areas on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and serves as a reservoir of biological diversity. Non-native invasive plants have aggressively taken over some ACLT areas and are overwhelming the native plants that live here, including some rare plants. An active invasive plant control program has been started to address this continuing threat. As part of this effort, the native plant garden will be installed at the South Side Trailhead where bittersweet vines, Ailanthus trees, and a large stand of bamboo have been removed to reveal a small spring-fed pond and a cluster of native bald cypress trees. Visitors will be able to enjoy a leisurely walk and respite while learning about the importance of controlling non-native, invasive plants.

Fun things to do in Calvert County

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~HISTORY~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Scientists’ Cliffs was founded in 1937 with an unusual charter: to promote an interest in the natural sciences by means of a botanical garden, arboretum, lectures, field trips, preservation of open space, exploration, and preservation of fossil deposits. It is the only community in Maryland and perhaps anywhere in America that maintains a museum of fossils collected on its beach. The earliest houses, many of which have been preserved, were log cabins. This was no accident. Founders Flippo and Annie Gravatt were both forest pathologists with the U. S. Department of Agriculture and were attracted to the area as a possible preserve for the American Chestnut tree. The Gravatts built their home, which became known as “Chestnut Cabin,” from chestnut trees killed by blight. Colleagues of the Gravatts became interested in the area and five smaller cabins were built nearby to accommodate visitors. A sawmill on the property produced logs of chestnut, tulip poplar and pine cut from the land. Many of the houses have fireplaces built of local fieldstone, some of which feature embedded sharks teeth and other fossils that homeowners gathered from the beach. The earliest “cabins” still retain furniture and handmade chairs and tables made by a local craftsman. Today, what began as a unique cluster of rustic summer cabins on the cliffs overlooking the Chesapeake Bay is a community of 244 homes, many of which have been expanded into year-round residences. The residents are no longer exclusively “scientists,” but the name has stuck, as has the community’s fascination with and appreciation for its natural setting.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ DIRECTIONS ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ROUTES FROM BALTIMORE: I-695 Beltway to Rt. 97 South to Rts. 3/301 to Rt. 4 East/South to Prince Frederick. Continue South on Rt. 4 an additional 5.7 mi. past the Calvert Memorial Hospital to the traffic light at Broomes Island Rd. Get into the left lane and go 0.4 mi. to Parkers Creek Rd. Turn left. Continue 0.5 mi. to Scientists’ Cliffs Rd. Turn right. Go 0.8 mi. to parking field on left.

FROM WASHINGTON, D.C.: I-495 Beltway to Rt. 4 (Pennsylvania Ave.) South/East to Upper Marlboro. Follow Rts. 4/2 to Prince Frederick. Then, same as above.

FROM ANNAPOLIS: South on Rt. 2 towards Prince Frederick. Join Rt. 4 at Sunderland. Go South to Prince Frederick on Rt. 2/4. Then, same as above.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ LUNCH ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


A gourmet boxed luncheon sponsored by the Calvert Garden Club will be served at the historic Scientists’ Cliffs’ Community House from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. by pre-paid reservation by April 30. Please send your check for $15 per person, payable to Calvert Garden Club, to Carol Frederick, 530 Small Reward Road, Huntingtown, MD 20639.  For further information, please call Joyce Fletcher at 410-535-5569.

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ACACIA RD.

The original 1953 cabin was designed by Scientists’ Cliffs’ architect Thomas Locraft. The first addition, completed in December 1994, features a large upstairs den and adjoining open-plan kitchen with large windows and sliding glass doors facing the winter water view. A second, two-story addition literally doubled the size of the house. With the roof sloping up toward the Bay and the new wrap-around deck coming to a point facing the Bay, the new addition gives the impression of a ship’s prow when it is viewed from below. It maximizes the winter water view while maintaining the integrity of the original cabin. An 1100 square foot master bedroom suite was added in 1999. The house now has three bedrooms and two baths on the main level and a separate three-bedroom, two-bath area with its own entrance and parking pad on the lower level. The rocks for the front door pillars were taken from the site and local excavations, and match the rocks of the existing fireplace. Note the fossils and shells imbedded in the front pillars and concrete stoop.

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ACACIA RD.

This hillside garden slopes down to a ravine with a small stream that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Certified “Baywise” in 2005 by the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Office’s Master Gardener program, the homeowners follow gardening practices that are beneficial to the environment. Shaded by towering tulip poplars, the hillside is broken into a series of planting beds that prevent runoff and eliminate some mowing. Many of the flower beds are bordered with native fieldstone rock acquired from this area. Azaleas and rhododendrons are prominent in the landscape. Native ferns mix with hostas, hellebores, solomon’s seal and other shade-loving plants. Sunnier flower beds include hydrangeas, peonies, iris and assorted perennials. Black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, goldenrod, coneflowers and Joe-pye weed attract birds and butterflies to the garden.

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ACACIA RD.

This 1997 house was designed by Annapolis architect Wayne Good as a retirement home. It consists of a series of four small connected “cabins,” each about the size of the iconic 600 square foot log cabins of the original 1930s Scientists’ Cliffs’ compound. The house’s scale, proportion, massing, and materials were chosen to appropriately reinforce the community’s history. Clad in a combination of faux logs (rounded and milled solid-cedar clapboards) and vertical board-and-batten siding, it resembles an original cabin with additions, reflective of the way many cabins have been transformed from summer retreats to predominantly full-time residences. The upper level features a master bedroom suite, dining room/kitchen with maple cabinetry and high-tech appliances, and living room. The lower level has a guest bedroom, recreation room, and TV room, which open out onto the woods and a trail leading to many of the Scientists’ Cliffs’ amenities.

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COMMUNITY HOUSE (LUNCH).

This 66’x40’ log structure was built in 1948 by the Gravatts and dedicated as the Joseph P. Flippo Memorial Building. For many years it has served as the major social gathering place for members of Scientists’ Cliffs.

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AZALEA RD.

The horticultural heritage of Scientists’ Cliffs had deep roots in this particular yard and gardens. The many azaleas on three sides of the cabin date from the late 1940s and were started from seeds and cuttings by enthusiast Dr. Henry Allanson of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, as was the Korean dogwood just behind the stone wall and the now towering Southern magnolia by the cabin entrance. Over the years, the owners have enlarged their borders with “more-or-less” deer-resistant plants such as astilbe, heuchera, helleborus, agastache, ferns, peonies, nepeta, coreopsis, Russian sage, bluebeard, asters, and ornamental grasses. In the spring, the wooded wildflower garden in back and adjacent to the cabin is awash with thousands of daffodils, many of which are heirlooms.

 

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ATROPA RD.

The owner’s grandparents owned a summer cabin in Gate E until 1965 when they built an elegant California-style home as their year-round residence (#7 on the tour). She spent most summers with them and enjoyed the carefree lifestyle as a JCD (“junior cliff dweller,” as teenagers at Scientists’ Cliffs are called). In April 2010 she purchased this simple cabin built in 1980. With “champagne tastes on a beer budget,” she set out to transform the “plain Jane” cabin into her dream home. A few minor alterations–knocking down a wall between the kitchen and dining room, adding an island as a focal point, and painting every square inch of the interior–and her cabin was transformed and ready for furnishings. The result is an adventuresome collection of rooms filled with family antiques, nautical touches, and even some thrift-store treasures. An Asian-inspired split foyer leads up to the open living room/dining room/kitchen done in white-white trim, blue accents and the perfect “beach house” beige walls, the guest room and master bedroom then down to the “bird room” second guestroom, and “Africa”–a showcase for photos the owner took on safari in South Africa.

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ABELIA RD.

Built in the mid 1960s and renovated in 2004, the four-bedroom clear cedar-sided home is located at the end of a short road nestled among mature holly and magnolia trees and hydrangeas. The garden includes not only a dozen varieties of azaleas but also lemon and olive trees and mountain laurel. The Frank Lloyd Wright-like residence features spacious rooms, tongue-and-groove ceilings, two fireplaces and gracious porches overlooking the wooded rear gardens, the ravines, and the Chesapeake Bay. The living and dining rooms showcase a collection of Chinese rugs and blue and white porcelain. The house was built by Mr. and Mrs. Harry McClain. Its second owners were Dr. Marian Irish and Elke Frank. The current owners moved to the Cliffs in June 2005 after the house had been extensively renovated. They have made it their mission to restore the gardens that surround the property.

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ARROWHEAD RD.

Originally built from a kit in the early 1970s during the gas shortage as a solar and wood-stove heated house, this “Villa of Reduced Circumstances” has six-inch insulated walls. The first owner did all the finish work, including locating Western Cedar planks long enough to reach from the bottom of the first floor to the top of the second story ceiling (about 20 feet). Since acquiring the house eight years ago, the current owner has extensively renovated the house, cleared 1.5 acres of vines and overgrowth and planted many trees, bushes and flowers (including 15,000 daffodil bulbs). Among the most interesting trees are a Franklinia tree in the left front garden and a beautiful Cunninghamia toward the back of the property that were acquired from the Bending Bough nursery (#23 on the tour). There are about ten varieties of deciduous magnolias, about 50 varieties of azaleas, and many varieties of crape myrtle and camellias.

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BALSAM RD.

The original house was built in the 1940s as a large summer cabin with a wrap-around porch. Like most of the original cabins, it had small windows, low overhangs, a large room on the top floor, bedrooms on the entry floor and a basement. The current owners bought the house in 1988 because of the sweeping view over the ravine to the Chesapeake Bay. Plants and trees that were completely covered in English ivy, poison ivy, bittersweet, and honeysuckle were removed and four garden areas were created (front sun, front shade, back and slope). In 2005 the house was expanded, while preserving many of the original logs, stone and plantings. River birch trees were used to divide the house into three parts so that it would look like a cluster of three cabins. Large windows now provide a full view of eagles, hawks, and osprey as they soar over the Bay. Knotty pine walls create a relaxed cabin ambience. The kitchen, dining, and living room were designed with an open traffic pattern for easy movement when the owners’ large immediate family visits on weekends and for even larger gatherings on holidays.

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BALSAM RD.

Built in 1953, this log cabin home was lovingly renovated in 2002. Exposed log beams and pine paneling throughout the first floor retain the ambience of the original cabin. Sharks teeth embedded in the ironstone fireplace, a kitchen counter that displays treasures found along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico, and colorful artwork are some of the highlights of the home. The eclectic mix of furniture includes family heirlooms as well as cherry furniture made by Steven Kurtz, an Amish craftsman from Mechanicsville. As you make your way to the lower level, you will be delighted to find a working artist’s studio. A garden of flowering and multi-textured and colorful shrubs welcomes the visitor to this cozy cabin.

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BALSAM RD.

This cabin is one of the very few rustic post-war log residences that remain in their original condition. As you enter this cabin you will be transported back to the Scientists’ Cliffs of the 1940s. Virtually nothing on the main level and loft area has been changed since its original construction. The ferrous sandstone fireplace was constructed by local stonemason Dickie Wallace, and the original living room furniture and kitchen cabinetry were crafted by Remer Sapp. On the ceiling are the tarred handprints of the building team. The paneling and railing made from local timber are decorated with fishing nets, glass floats and straw hats brought back from Vietnam. Decades of fossil finds from the Bay adorn the mantel piece. The original iron fixtures and fittings and cabinet hinges and window openers, all carefully designed and clever, are still functioning. Outside, the Lady Banksia rose was brought from Alabama, the native flame azaleas were transplanted from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the rhododendrons were acquired from a neighbor

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“OLD HICKORY,” BIRCH RD.

Built on the site of an original 1937 log cabin, this newly constructed home gets its name from an enormous hickory tree that stood on the site. The tree was milled and planed by local craftsmen and used for finishing throughout the house. The original cabin was meticulously dismantled and the most usable components were retained. Examples of the extensive re-use of historical materials include the installation of original exterior logs, wood flooring, doors and foundation stone, as well as the wood from a cherry tree that was also removed from the site. Old Hickory, which comprises three combined lots, commands a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The home is furnished with an eclectic mix of fine art and furniture, including period American antiques and art, as well as a broad array of European and Asian pieces.

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CHESTNUT CABIN AND MUSEUM.

Built in 1935 as a summer cottage for Flippo and Annie Gravatt, this is the first cabin at Scientists’ Cliffs. It served as the gathering place for early residents before construction of the Community House in 1948. Gravatt was a USDA plant pathologist specializing in the blight that killed off the chestnut tree during the early 20th century. The wood, however, does not rot quickly and the cabin, including walls, floors, bookcases, and curtain rods, was made of chestnut milled at Gravatt’s own sawmill. Raymond and Harold Matteson built the cabin; the foundation, fireplace, and chimney were made from ironstone by the African American craftsman Dickie Wallace; and the rustic furniture is by Remer Sapp. Reflecting the richness of Miocene fossils in the cliffs, a museum was installed in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Gravatts built a year-round home adjacent to the cabin. Flippo died in 1969 and Annie passed away in 1986. Annie willed Chestnut Cabin to the Scientists’ Cliffs’ community which uses both “old” and “new” Chestnut for a variety of events.

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BLUEBELL RD

Constructed in 1938 as one of the community’s earliest rustic log cabins, the original structure was extensively and sympathetically renovated in the early 1990s with the additions of a master bedroom, front deck, a spacious open kitchen, flagstone back patio, and several fieldstone garden walls. Original features of the house include a large fireplace made of local Calvert County stone (the back side of which remains exposed in the master bathroom), three cabin-style windows on the south wall of the main living area, knotty pine floors and bent-wood chairs in the front seating area. Three large dormers on the front side of the cabin provide easterly views over the Chesapeake Bay and fill the cabin with morning light.

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CHERRY RD

This 1941 notched log frame cabin has an open interior and saltbox roof. Inside there is rustic woodwork and extensive use of pickwick style knotty pine paneling. Embedded in the stone fireplace are fossil sharks teeth, a small Ecphora gardnerae shell and horse teeth. The stairwell and loft railing are constructed of tree limbs arranged in the Adirondack style. The cabin has been extensively renovated on the interior and exterior. Recent renovations include a new septic system, windows, an insulated roof, kitchen, dining and family room and a bath and bedroom addition. In 2008 a major renovation replaced rotten exterior logs, installed new chinking and re-stained all logs. The cabin was designated a Calvert County historic district in 2002. In 2009, the owners received a Calvert County Historic Committee award for outstanding contribution to the preservation of Calvert County’s architectural heritage.

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CEDAR RD.

When the owners purchased the house in 2000, it was surrounded by wild vines, bamboo, and mud flats. Their intent is to have a collection of plants providing blooms from spring through fall. The garden in front of the house is intended to remain the prime ‘bloomer’ with a strong attraction for butterflies and hummingbirds. An array of bulbs, annuals, and herbs are planted in this area. The slope behind the house, almost impossible to walk up or down, is being developed into an uninterrupted transition to the wild woods of the conserved open space adjacent to the property. A variety of bulbs, which have been planted on the slope along with large bushes that will assist in preventing erosion, will eventually become the dominant plants once the annual ‘new’ bamboo crop ceases to grow. A stone walkway follows the perimeter of the house and gardens. A variety of large flowering shrubs provides a privacy barrier.

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DOVETREE RD.

Perched on more than an acre atop Gate D hill and surrounded by woods, the house faces a meadow that doubles as the sledding hill in winter. The property has been in the Fleming family since 1951. In 2001, the family replaced the original cottage overlooking the Bay with a new home designed by architect Neal Hodgson. A two-story stacked sleeping porch allows Bay winds to flow through the house. Focusing on sustainable design, the owners reused barn timbers and fieldstone from their Mercersburg, PA farm. Windows from the original cottage were installed as new built-in cabinet fronts. Sustainable materials such as concrete siding and low VOC paints were used. Low-E glazed windows, a master bath skylight, and a super insulated shell make this home energy efficient. The new home was designed to accommodate three generations of Flemings, who often visit all at one time.

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DOGWOOD RD.

This early 1948 cabin was built with logs from local trees. Over the years a heating system, dining room, and an outside deck were added, but the cabin stayed much in its original form until 2005. At that time, the owners hired Ewing Miller, a resident architect, to draw up plans for renovation of the living space and incorporation of the basement apartment with the rest of the house. The idea was to keep a cabin look and feel to the house while increasing the sunlight and the views of the Bay. The main living space with a cathedral ceiling is dominated by a free-standing, sharks tooth-embedded stone fireplace which was the hallmark of many of the early cabins. The south and east walls are the original cabin logs as is the wall in the dining room. But it is the unique views of the Bay through the treetops, great for birders or boat watchers alike, that make the cabin special.

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EASTERBELL RD.

All grass was removed from the site and 231 shrubs and trees were planted to fit the natural setting. One hundred eighty-eight azaleas representing 90 different varieties were planted with color compatibility in mind and dominate the landscape. Fifty-four Delaware Valley whites provide a large swath of bloom in front of the house and borders for paths and other plantings. Other species include holly, rhododendron, andromeda, camellia, dwarf Japanese maple, nandina, lilac, star magnolia, white pine, and dogwood. In addition, large beds of narcissi, irises, and perennials were planted. Of special interest is a unique natural holly cross that the owner’s father, E. A. Hollowell, discovered in the woods off Scientist’s Cliffs Rd. It is male only and is included in the U.S. National Arboretum Herbarium Horticultural Cultivated Portfolio Standards by the name Ilex Hollowell.

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CLIFF HOUSE, ELM RD.

The view is the reason for this house. On a sheer cliff dropping 105 feet to the Bay, it occupies one of the highest and most dramatic shore-front sites on the Chesapeake Bay. Bald eagles, ospreys, and herons cruise by at eye level, patrolling the beach below. Expansive windows provide an unobstructed view over 200 square miles of open water. This arts and crafts inspired house cradles at its heart the original cabin, preserving its fabulous ceiling, knotty pine walls, and fireplace of local stone. Completed in 2009, the house incorporates the stringent environmental features–rain barrels, permeable drive and walks, low nitrogen septic system, and local plantings–now required for construction in the 200-foot critical zone adjacent to the Bay.

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EVERGREEN RD.

Formerly overgrown with ivy and lined in hemlocks, the “postage stamp” garden has evolved into an assortment of deer-resistant plants and shrubs, many of which are native species. In early spring, daffodils and a large variety of ferns adorn the front of the property. Varieties of ligularia show off a purple and yellow palette and leucothoe soften the landscape. Winterberry, holly, inkberry, and beautyberry abound. Three Japanese maples protect the small frog pond. Another favorite is Harry Lauder Walking Stick. A wisteria arbor was added in 2000. Across the road, another garden is filled with memories of the people who gave many of the flowers, shrubs and trees, interspersed with stones and rocks collected from travels and walks along the Bay.

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EVERGREEN RD.

Built in the style of the original Scientists’ Cliffs’ cabins in 1956, the garage and a lower level shop were added in 1970. A library addition to the front of the house occurred in the 1980s. In 2005, the house was purchased by the current owners who raised the porch roof eve so sliders could be installed for access to a new deck, opened the foyer entry, and added stone flooring. The interior of the house, as well as the new deck, is painted in vivid colors that highlight the owners’ collection of art and textiles.

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BENDING BOUGH NURSERY, ELDER RD.

The nursery was established in 1963 by Joseph Showalter as a way to pursue his horticultural interests and to enhance the beauty of Scientists’ Cliffs. Take note of the rare southern long leaf pine (Pinus palustris) known for pine needle basket making. These pines and many other specimens came to the nursery as seedlings in the trunk of Joe’s car. White flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), a favorite of Mr. Showalter, line each aisle. The nursery hosts a rare Franklinia tree (Franklinia alatamaha) found in the middle fenced area. This stunning specimen, named after Benjamin Franklin, has not reportedly existed in the wild since 1803. Other species of note include cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), golden hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa “Crippsii”), and Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica). The current owner, Alexander H. Valanidas, has a design-and-build landscape company that specializes in native plantings.

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