Friends School of Baltimore
Native Plant Teaching Gardens:
A Collaboration with the Guilford Garden Club

In partnership since 2005, Friends School of Baltimore and the Guilford Garden Club (GGC) have created a series of Native Plant Teaching Gardens throughout the campus. Conservation and education are at the heart of the project.  The gardens employ Chesapeake Bay Watershed native plants that thrive with minimal care, attract pollinators and other wildlife, and absorb surface water on the school’s sloping campus.

Friends School, founded in 1784, is Baltimore’s oldest school.  The campus is tucked between two Olmsted Brothers designed neighborhoods - Roland Park and Homeland.  Managing storm water runoff has been a constant challenge on the school’s bowl shaped site that acts as a funnel for rain and snowmelt into the Stony Run, a creek on its western border channeling water that ultimately flows into the Chesapeake Bay.   Over the past 11 years, GGC has worked with students, faculty and the extended community, providing garden plans and planting supervision.  The groups have labored side-by-side, planting over 10,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses in gardens designed to capture and control the flow of water.

In 2009, Stony Run Meeting joined the gardening efforts on campus.  GGC members worked with the Upper School Sustainability Club and Stony Run Meeting members to design and build the Friends Community Garden. In this vegetable garden, organic gardening practices yield harvests shared with the CARES food pantry. In 2015 and 2016, rain gardens and conservation landscaping was installed on Meeting property.

As the gardens grow on campus, faculty members increasingly find ways to incorporate them into the curriculum.  Art, science, and language arts classes as well as many clubs enjoy using resources right outside their door.  Families have inquired about and are using native plants in their home gardens and planting vegetable patches; many have purchased plants at Scarlet and Gray Day (Homecoming) Native Plant Sales. Faculty and parents from neighboring schools and members of nearby churches have toured the campus, using it as a model as they make plans for their own native plant and vegetable gardens.


More work lies ahead.  New garden designs and installations, signage, and the enormous task of clearing invasive plants to restore woodlands and the banks of Stony Run will require continued collaboration and outreach to neighbors. Together, GGC and Friends School aspire to create a “conservation campus” for water, energy, and native plants and wildlife of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed as well as generations of ecological gardeners. 


Project History


2005    Fall: Opening of New Middle School Building and GGC approval of project

2006    Winter:  Original Meetings of School Administration and GGC

            Earth Day 1st Planting: Middle School, Preprimary, Math Science Building


2007     Earth Day Cutting Back and Invasive Plant Removal

             2nd Planting: Middle School, Preprimary, Math Science Building


     Earth Day Cutting Back and Invasive Plant Removal

              3rd Planting: Swale Garden and Preprimary

              Fall Native Plant Sale

              4th Planting: Staircase Garden Phase I--boulders, trees, shrubs, grasses


2009      Earth Day Cutting Back and Invasive Plant Removal

              5th Planting: Staircase Garden Phase II—perennials, grasses, and ferns,                                                     Lower School beds Phase I—trees and shrubs

              Vegetable Garden Planning and Construction with Stony Run Meeting

               Fall Native Plant Sale


2010      Earth Day William Penn Oak Planting, Cutting Back, and Invasive Plant                                 Removal

              6th Planting: Lower School Phase II: Perennials, grasses and ferns

              Fall Native Plant Sale


2011      Earth Day Cutting Back and Invasive Plant Removal

              7th Planting: Cathedral Slope and Sourwood Bed

              Fall Native Plant Flower Show with Guilford Garden Club “Going Native”


2012      Earth Day Cutting Back and Invasive Plant Removal

              8th Planting: Forbush Memorial Garden

                  Picnic Glade Phase I--trees, shrubs and grasses

              Fall Native Plant Sale


2013      Earth Day Cutting Back,

              9th Planting: Picnic Glade Phase II and   Forbush Memorial Garden additions

              Fall Native Plant Sale

              Little Friends Phase I—trees, shrubs, perennials


2014      Earth Day Cutting Back

              Little Friends Swale Garden


2015      Earth Day Cutting Back

              Little Friends Swale—Phase 2 Planting and Hometown Habitat Filming

              Fallen Tree Garden


2016      Earth Day Planting Middle School, Staircase, and Picnic Glade

              Stony Run Meeting Rain and Conservation Landscaping Gardens

Sources of Funding

Friends School, Friends School Native Plant Garden Fund, Middle School Garden Club, and Sustainability Club
Chesapeake Bay Trust
Jones Falls Watershed
Stony Run Meeting
Friends Council on Education
Maryland Agricultural foundation
Food and Faith Program/Roswell grant Johns Hopkins School of Public Health


Although some nurseries listed below are wholesale only, many have websites with valuable information about native plants and helpful plant lists. 


Nurseries with a * are open to retail customers; please check with each nursery for retail hours.


American Native Plants

Babikow Greenhouses

Cavanos Perennials*

Chesapeake Natives*

Heartwood Nursery*

Herring Run Nursery*

Kingsdene Nursery*

Manorview Farms

North Creek Nursery

Natural Landscapes Nursery

Perennial Farm*




Brown, M. and R. Brown. 1984. Herbaceous Plants of Maryland. Baltimore, MD: Port City Press, Inc.


Brown, M. and R. Brown. 1972. Woody Plants of Maryland. Baltimore, MD: Port City Press, Inc.


Cullina, W.  2000.  The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada. Boston, MA and  New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.


Cullina, W., New England Wild Flower Society. 2002. Native Trees, Shrubs, & Vines. Boston, MA and New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.


Cullina, W., New England Wild Flower Society. 2008. Native Ferns, Moss, & Grasses. Boston, MA and New York, NY. Houghton Mifflin Company


Darke, R.  2002. The American Woodland Garden. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press


Darke, R. and D. Tallamy. 2014. The Living Landscape. Portland Oregon. Timber Press


Leopold, D.  2005.  Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening & Conservation. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.


Messervy, J., The Inward Garden. 1995. Boston, Ma. Little , Brown, and Co.


Rainer, T. and Claudia West. 2015. Planting in a Post-Wild World. Portland, Oregon. Timber Press 


Roberts, Edith A. and Elsa Rehmann.1996. American Plants for American Gardens.

University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia. Copyright 1929 Macmillan Company


Robinson, W. with Rick Darke. 2009. The Wild Garden. Portland, Oregon.  Timber



Sawyers, Claire.  2007. The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press


Slatterly, B., K. Reshetiloff, and S. Zwicker. 2003. Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Annapolis, MD. 82.pp.


Sternberg, G. with J. Wilson. 2004. Native Trees for North American Landscapes Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.


Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slatterly and S. Zwicker. 2002. Plant Invaders of the Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. National Park Services and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington, D.C. 82 pp.


Tallamy, Doug. 2007. Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press


Weaner, Larry and Thomas Christopher. 2016. Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change. Portland, Oregon.