|Whipps is a one-acre wooded park bordering a busy Ellicott City street, joining two major roads (U.S. Rt. 40 and U.S. Rt 29), located on St. John’s Lane. It is a green oasis in an urban setting.
Historically, Whipps is an old cemetery where many of Ellicott City’s merchants and farmers, mill workers and railroaders—and their families—were buried from 1855 until about 1915. In the late 1980’s Whipps was rescued from oblivion—ravaged by destructive vandals, from invasive weeks and vines, and from thoughtless neighbors who used it as a “dump”. The rescuers were the locate community association, the historic owners (the Whipps family) and more recently, the Master Gardeners of Howard County.
Whipps is now owned by a non-profit organization –the Friends of the Whipps Cemetery and Memorial Gardens, Inc.—and it is today a place of the living, not the dead—alive with the beauty of Nature and the inspiration of those whowould make gardens—and teach others how. The Whipps Garden Cemetery today has an “adaptive re-use”: to help fulfill the mission of the University of Maryland’s Master Gardener program which is to teach home-owners about horticultural and environmental matters.
At Whipps, Master Gardeners work in many ways” we make and nurture gardens, we design educational take-away materials for the information boxes throughout the park, we escort tours, we give presentations in our “woodland theater”, we work with Boy and Girl Scouts, school groups, and garden clubs. The Whipps Garden Cemetery is thus an “interactive” park with our visitors. What make Whipps special is that it is a microcosm of all the programs which Master Gardeners espouses, including: Integrated Pest Management Bay-wise Storm water management Composting Use of Native Plants Youth Education Land and Nature Preservation At Whipps, we put to work all that we learn through the Master Gardener program, and we teach others to follow in our foot-steps. Whipps is not a big program, nor is it a big site, but it has BIG potential. Among the Master Gardener programs, it is unique as it seeks to incorporate all facets of Master Gardener training. It is unique also in that it is a site where history and horticulture inter-twine. Open dawn to dusk, everyday, as a public park, Whipps gives people a place to “stop the world” for a few minutes and refresh their souls in a green oasis, drawing inspiration from the past to chart the future.
In the words of the Wall Street Journal, speaking about Lynden Miller, author of Parks, Plants and People, “she creates urban Edens.” At Whipps, we strive to do that—and more: provide a learning environment to help people create their own Nature-friendly and sustainable landscapes. When do Master Gardeners and other volunteer work at Whipps” Whenever it is convenient for YOU—just notify Aleta Gravelle first (410-274-7795 or 410-465-2398). Officially, we work anytime from 9 a.m. to Noon on Thursday, March through November. The Whipps Garden Cemetery is located at 3651 St John’s Lane. Park on the cemetery parking pad or along the East side of St. John’s Lane.