Updated for 2017–
The minute I see a tulip in bloom anywhere, I think of Sherwood Gardens.
And any chance I get — a warm Wednesday morning, sunny Sunday afternoon or even drizzly, dreary Tuesday — I take myself over to the gorgeous gardens set among the big houses of Baltimore’s tony Guilford neighborhood. You may need a map to find it.
I know I won’t be alone. Families, college students and even wedding parties make their way here to see the huge fields of color — tulips in every hue, flowering azaleas and dogwoods, great stretches of manicured lawn.
Some 80,000 bulbs burst into bloom sometime in April through the first week of May. (I always look for a tulip blooming somewhere in my travels as a reminder to stop by.) There’s a hand-drawn map of all the tulip varieties.
Once part of a grand estate, the property became a public treasure in the 1960s. Fundraising for the cost of tulip purchase, plus the maintenance but the work and fundraising are mostly the work of the neighbors of Guilford.
The six-acre site is perfect for an afternoon of strolling, lazing under a pink tree or following a toddler as he or she careens from flower bed to flower bed. Bring your homework, students. Your cameras, photographers. Your picnic, foodies. Your significant other, romantics. You can even bring the preacher and get married among the blossoms.Weddings (though not receptions) are permitted. With permission of course.
As beautiful as the garden is, there is the occasional obstacle. You may have to search for a parking space on these narrow residential streets. Watch the kids — there are no fences to keep them in check. Don’t look for a bathroom or even a trash can. And be quiet. The goal is tranquility and beauty among the city noise.
Sherwood Gardens is that. Tranquil. Beautiful and certainly one of Baltimore’s treasures.
After the flowers are spent, the public is invited to return to dig up those bulbs on Tulip Dig Day. It’s held the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, beginning at 7 a.m. Bring a shovel or spade and a bag, as well as cash for purchase of the bulbs you dig up. They cost 30 cents apiece. In 2017, the Tulip Dig is May 27, beginning at 7 a.m.
© Text by Mary K. Tilghman
Photos by Gina Truitt © 2013