Opener: May 2017

Posted on 05.23.17 – Insider, Lifestyles

Gardening for the 99 Percent

Marianne Willburn enjoys getting her hands dirty, whether it’s ink from writing or dirt from working in her garden. Willburn recently combined the best of both worlds into Big Dreams, Small Garden, a bouquet of garden advice, interviews of gardeners, beautiful photos and just the gentle nudge you need to create a backyard Eden—even though you have a marigold budget with fancy-plant tastes.

“It’s sort of a book of why you do it and how you do it,” she says. With splashes of humor, the author weaves her own story onto the pages, starting with an admission of how she used to envy the wealthy and their ability to hire gardeners to tend the exotic plants that shared space with fabulous water features and a patio filled with furniture that cost a fortune.

Instead, she took another path, more along the lines of “bloom where you’re planted.” Just because you’re not in the 1 percent, you can still find peace and beauty within your garden without racking up a huge credit card bill. “We can create a little paradise,” Willburn says, “We don’t have to have a Martha Stewart yard.”

The human spirit is celebrated in the book, including the story she tells of a man, unemployed for two years, who spent the time working on his house and garden as he searched for a job. He discovered skills and talents “that were worth something, even if the world” was telling him something different, she says.

A Master Gardener, Willburn has two decades of experience cultivating flowers and vegetables. She also writes a column and blog. Asked which passion she prefers most—gardening or writing—she chuckles. “I’ve always loved to write, that’s my great love, but, boy, gardening is a very close second. Without the gardening life, I’m not inspired to write.”

Willburn is scheduled for an author talk and book signing at 7 p.m. on May 10 at Curious Iguana bookstore, 12 N. Market St. Big Dreams, Small Garden is also available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

Blending Music & Nature

The beauty of nature and music are coming together in “Earth Songs,” a concert presented by the Frederick Children’s Chorus on May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, 1501 N. Market St. The event pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which has three parks in Frederick County, including Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont. Chorus members spent time getting inspired for the performance by exploring nature and learning from park rangers. The youngsters also took photos and videos that will be a part of the concert. Photos also will be displayed in the school lobby.

“It’s a wonderful way of blending audio and visual,” says Miriam Meglan, a chorus board member. “You see how they relate and complement one another. … The music helps paint what’s in the photos.”

Judy DuBose, chorus director, says the group initially sought project funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, but when that didn’t come through, Frederick’s philanthropic Delaplaine Foundation donated funds “that covered a sufficient amount” of what it cost to technically create the visual backdrop.

DuBose is excited about the selection of music to be featured, starting with Now I Walk in Beauty, a Navajo prayer that has been set to music. The concert will move through a variety of musical styles from Brahms to folk songs and jazz—Blue Skies is a jazz standard that will be featured, as well as Lay Earth’s Burden Down, a gospel-style selection. Another song will be View from the Air, the lyrics coming from the writings of aviator Charles Lindbergh. The concert will appropriately conclude with America the Beautiful. www.fredcc.org

Cocktail Contest

Frederick Magazine is looking for people with the best summer cocktail (or mocktail) recipes. Is it a twist on a classic or a completely new invention? We will taste-test drinks from a group of finalists to determine the winners which will be featured in the July Frederick Magazine. Send your recipe and contact information to editor@fredmag.com before the May 15 deadline. Cheers!

Celebrating Everything Celtic

Enjoy the offerings of Scotland and Ireland without a passport or jet lag by attending the 17th Annual Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 13 at the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company Carnival Grounds, located at 1003 Twin Arch Road in Mount Airy. The family oriented event will honor military veterans with the designated charity being Platoon 22, an organization devoted to reducing veteran suicides.

“My favorite part is the music and dancing and the atmosphere—being able to share the culture,” says Kathryn Darling, one of the event’s volunteers.

The day will indeed be filled with Celtic rock and traditional music, bagpipes, and dancing, with four stages on the grounds providing numerous choices. Highland games, a British car show, dog events, a shortbread bake-off, whiskey and beer tastings, rugby, and activities for the youngsters will be featured.  Visit Clan Village and learn about Celtic culture and whether it may be part of your roots. Enjoy a variety of tasty food and beverages at this rain-or-shine event. www.midmarylandcelticfestival.com

Drop by the Website for a Visit

After months of preparation, Visit Frederick recently launched its redesigned www.visitfrederick.org. The new site was created by Simpleview, a company that specializes in destination marketing organization websites. The firm’s extensive knowledge of the tourism industry has been a huge asset throughout the process and will continue to be beneficial moving forward, according to Visit Frederick staff.

The previous website was built primarily to be viewed on a desktop computer. An increasing number of visitors, however, were viewing the site from a mobile device, eventually surpassing the visits from desktop computers. Addressing the issue, the new website gives visitors complete easy access to all information on the site, such as restaurants, lodging, events and attractions, regardless of device.

Simpleview also examined the previous site’s Google analytics to point out topics that seemed to be popular but did not have particularly robust pages. For example, Frederick Keys baseball had consistently been a page that received a high amount of traffic and kept people engaged with the site for a long period of time. Knowing that there was such wide interest in the Keys, Visit Frederick added new information about the Keys and made the team’s page easier to find on the site.

The new-and-improved visitfrederick.org will continue to highlight pages and topics that have performed well in the past and will offer a fresh take on some of the areas of the site that were receiving a lower amount of traffic. Images of Frederick County often speak louder than words and the new website takes full advantage of the region’s incredible beauty, officials say.