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Ready to grow

As the weather warms, gardeners at Oak Crest are ready to dig in

Created date

March 21st, 2014
woman in garden shoveling

Snow may have been in the forecast in February, but Ursula Jacob couldn’t resist stopping by her garden to see if anything might be popping up.

“I planted some blue tulips in the fall, and I couldn’t wait to see how pretty they would be,” she says.

For the last two months, Ursula has been anxiously waiting for the weather to break so she can get back to her garden located at Oak Crest, the 87-acre Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., she calls home. 

“I’m strictly a flower gardener; I don’t do vegetables,” says Ursula. “I plant some annuals, as well as daylilies, hosta, ornamental grasses, and things like that.”

Ursula and her husband Harvey moved to Crest nearly four years ago from a single-family house in Harford County, where she spent much of her time outdoors. 

“I had all kinds of flower beds at our house and would spend a lot of time tending to them,” she says. “When we moved to Oak Crest, I was excited that I wouldn’t have to give up gardening since I enjoy it so much.”

Putting down roots

Ursula is one of dozens of Oak Crest residents who enjoy getting their hands dirty in the expansive community garden area located near Lake Victoria, a large, man-made pond on campus.  

The community features eighty 10- by 10-foot gardening spaces, and six 7- by 7-foot raised planter beds, allowing plenty of room for planting everything from strawberries to roses. The spaces are free and available on a first come, first served basis. 

To assist residents with their garden spaces, the Oak Crest grounds department provides mulch, compost, peat moss, water, and one free tilling each year in early April. A common garden shed is also on site for storing tools.

“We provide one day of volunteer labor at the beginning of each season,” says Grounds and Transportation Supervisor Frank Lina. 

Oak Crest grounds employees, along with area high school students, help with pulling weeds, raking leaves, and spreading compost and mulch. 

“We also have a greenhouse where you can keep any indoor plants that you may not want in your apartment or if you want to start something from seed,” says Ursula. 

Fruits of our labor

Oak Crest resident Paul Hagner has two garden beds—one for his fig tree and the other for tomatoes, zucchini, and flowers. 

“I’ve always had vegetable and flower gardens,” says Paul. “I love fresh figs. So when I moved to Oak Crest, I wanted to have my own fig tree. Last year, I had over 900 figs! It was unbelievable! I gave away a lot of them to friends and neighbors, and I think my one daughter probably ate about 200 of them herself.”

Ursula says one of the things she enjoys most about gardening is all the wonderful people she has met while working outside.

“Gardeners are nice people!” says Ursula. “Everyone I meet is so friendly. Many people exchange plants with one another, and the vegetable gardeners often grow more than they can eat. They usually share their tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and other vegetables with anyone who wants them.”

For Paul, the best part of gardening is enjoying the fruits of his labor. 

“There’s nothing like picking a zucchini right off the vine, slicing it up, and simmering it with diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning—fantastic!”