Fairy Houses, Gnome Homes & More
By Bob Tagert
Fairy Houses, Gnome Homes & More
Annmarie Sculpture Garden – Solomons, Maryland
After two months of home confinement, the world is getting a little brighter and if you think the time to get away is at hand, this is a great spring/summer destination. Just like in Alexandria, there are still limited openings but Annmarie Garden opened on a limited basis in mid-May. This is a fascinating destination and the themes change every so often which makes a return trip worthwhile.
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center is located in scenic Solomons, Maryland, where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay. According to information provided for this column, “Annmarie is committed to connecting people to art and nature. Through a wide variety of engaging exhibits, programs, classes, public projects, and annual events, Annmarie opens up opportunities for creativity, collaboration, and reflection. This is a magical place. By providing opportunities for visitors to experience and engage in imaginative activities, Annmarie seeks to nurture the human spirit and contribute to a healthy society.” The Garden lives up to it for sure.
In 1991, Francis and Ann M. Koenig donated this property to Calvert County with the intention that it be developed into a sculpture garden over the next decade. Their dream took shape as six works of art were installed on the thirty acre property. In 2003, Annmarie became a member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Affiliations Program. This program allowed the Garden to borrow more than twenty-five pieces of sculpture from the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in DC. In 2008, The Arts Building and the Studio School opened, allowing Annmarie to dramatically expand its programs and activities.
There are many more diverse pieces on the property now and they are all fully integrated into the natural setting of the Garden. This provides you an opportunity to develop an appreciation for the seasonal changes inherent in outdoor art. In addition to the sculpture, the walking paths were created and the allies, or hallways, were cleared. The allies allow visitors to look across Annmarie as you roam the walking path. On this visit some very clever sidewalk chalk artists had created walking games geared for children but are just as much fun for adults. My travel companion took it upon herself to “follow the directions” on a few of them and admitted it was harder than it looks. But, then again she is 66 years old.
In addition to the impressive sculptures that adults will have an appreciation for, the kids will love the Fairies in the Garden exhibit. The fairy houses and gnome homes that are hidden throughout the Garden are all very unique and you have to really look for some of them. There is a nature activity and kids can make a nature wands as they walk along the path. The idea is to pick up your “wand” – actually a small branch from one of the many trees – that has ribbons and rubber bands that you can use to attach your nature finds as you walk along the path. These are located at the beginning of the path at the Fairy Lolly area.
The grounds have recently opened back up on a limited basis and are open daily 10am-5pm. They hope to have the arts building open sometime this month for access to the galleries and exhibits. The Sculpture Walk & Trails are open while the Fairy Lolly Creative Play Space & Arts Building are temporarily closed. One outdoor restroom is open, masks are encouraged but not required and social spacing is to be practiced. There is a suggested donation of $7.00 per car or whatever you would like to donate. Annmarie Garden is located on Dowell Road in Solomons right off of Route 4. Miss Waze or your GPS will tell you exactly where it is.
After your visit to the Gardens, you might want to take a left when you leave the gate and take Dowell Road to the end. You will find yourself driving onto the Calvert Marina property and at the end of the road (near the fuel dock) the “On Watch” statue awaits. This monument of a solitary sailor is all that is left of the World War ll Solomons Amphibious Training Base that is now the marina. It is worth the short drive.
After checking out the monument, head on to Solomons Island where you can find the Calvert Marine Museum (at the time of this writing they remained closed), many shops and galleries as well as restaurants and fantastic views of the Patuxent River. In the beginning of June, all restaurants will still be offering food to go and you can buy an alcoholic beverages to accompany your meal. Restrictions may lighten up by mid-June and outdoor dining should be available. All we can do is keep paying attention to the local news.
Solomons Island has always been one of our favorite places. There are paddleboards and small boats for rent as well as a river walk promenade along the Patuxent River and the sunsets are spectacular. If you decide to stay the night there are a few hotels and a handful of bed & breakfasts to choose from. There is a lot to see on Solomons Island and it takes time. Check out choosecalvert.com for more information about the area.