Pleasant View 

Native Plant Garden

Volunteer project of Earth Stewardship East

Funded by a grant from

The Chesapeake Bay Trust and the

Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Fund

Pleasant View Project

Earth Stewardship East has been awarded a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to complete a major storm water management, native plant landscaping and public education project on the historic African American site, Pleasant View, 11810 Darnestown Road, Gathersburg, MD. Funds will be used to purchase plants and supplies -- work will be done by volunteers. Please join us in this amazing opportunity to make a significant positive environmental impact -- and share in an historic celebration.  To date we've had 200+ volunteers at our various events.  THANK YOU!

Our project will be completed in 2018, in time to mark the 150th anniversary of the purchase of this property by freed slaves.

Adults and youth aged 8+ are welcome at any of our work days.    Teens can earn MCPS SSL hours for volunteer time.  Scout and youth groups particularly welcome. 

We need people to help weed on a continuing basis - please contact Merikay if you can stop by for an hour or more to help weed.  You can weed at any time on any day that is convenient to you.

Let us know if you want to help.  Everyone can help in some way.

See below for details on past events and to learn more about Pleasant View.

History of Pleasant View

"According to the Pleasant View Historical Association historian, Vernon Green, the property was purchased in 1868 for $54 for the establishment of a Methodist Episcopal Church to serve the African-American community that resided in the area. The congregants originally worshiped in a school on the property until they could afford to build a church. The church was built in 1888. In 1901, the Quince Orchard Colored School burned down under suspicious circumstances. In 1902, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to move the old school for white children that was located across the street to the Pleasant View site to be used for the black students. A new school was built for the white population." - from The Quince Orchard Project.

For more on the history of Pleasant View:

For a very interesting video (17 minutes) on the Quince Orchard Colored School and the history of segregated schools in Montgomery County, see

For extended interviews with community members who attended school at the Pleasant View site, see the following:

Thanks to the Potomac Garden Center

The Potomac Garden Center donated bulbs for our Pleasant View garden. I picked cultivars that might look in place in an older garden. I noticed last spring that there were a few narcissus growing under the large tree planted some time in the distant past. Among the bulbs donated and planted in November: 'Ice Follies,' shown in the photo, has been grown in gardens since at least 1953. 'Mt. Hood,' a white daffodil has been grown since 1934. 'Jack Snipe' is pre 1951. The Narcissus poeticus is a lovely species daffodil, grown in gardens as it appears in nature (though unfortunately not in North America). Hyacinths 'Delft Blue' (1944) and 'Blue Jacket' (1953) along with 'Pink Pearl' (1922) are now in the Pleasant View garden. If only there were a 'Green Pearl' that would be a perfect choice for this particular site! (Pearl Green is a Pleasant View community leader, now 99 years young.)  Stop by this spring to see them bloom -- Merikay


With 20 volunteers we spread mulch, planted trees, and prepared the beds for winter.  Special thanks to Matt Markoff for donating three loads of shredded wood for mulch and to Chief Markoff for bringing extra wheelbarrows.  Also to Jeff Smith for helping to setup the event and staying after to put deer protection on the newly planted trees and perennials.  Rev. Gerry Green, head Trustee at Pleasant View, was also on hand to help shovel. Thanks to all our volunteers the garden is ready for winter.


Above, a view of the garden on Nov. 3, 2017. New shrubs with bright fall colors have been added.  Click to see the photos.

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Previous Volunteer events:

Earth Day - Saturday, april 22, 2017  first big work day.  9 AM - 1 PM

Wednesday, April 26, LDS Church Youth, 7 pm

Thursday, April 27, LDS Cub scout Pack, 4:30 pm

Saturday, April 29, Youth Volunteer Day, 9 am - 1 pm

Tuesday, May 2,  finish spring planting, 7 pm

Tuesday, May 23, presentation "Native Plants for Gardens," 7 pm 

Saturday, June 23, June Fest, noon - 4 pm

Wednesday, august 9, 9 am open garden for mc master Gardeners

Monday, September 11, 10 am - noon; 7 - 8 pm

Thursday, october 19, 4 pm - 6 pm

Saturday, october 21, 10 am - 11 am

monday, october 23, 10 am - noon

Saturday, november 18, 10 am - noon 


Day to Serve on 9/11 at Pleasant View

A Girl Scout troop led by Dusti Conner, a group from ROI, Bishop Chris Matthews and other volunteers joined us on September 11 to prepare our native plant garden for fall.  We weeded the beds and also many of the tree circles.  Special thanks to Carolyn Thompson for bringing refreshments and to the Raynors for celebrating their anniversary with us.  

Click photos below to see how the garden looked July 15 and August 19.  Thanks to all who've helped at Pleasant View, especially our watering crew of Patty Dirlam, Angela Ellis, Mary Hlavinka, Melvin Joppy, Carolyn Thompson, and Celia Paulsen.  


Pleasant View Project

Native Plant Garden Creation over time

Today (June 30) I noticed native pollinators are already present in the garden including native bees, skippers, and a fritillary.  Also saw two yellow finches, a dove, and several other birds visiting the beds.  I've started adding a few name tags (thanks to Dara Ballow-Giffen).  We're making progress on the weeds (thanks to any who have helped).  There are three shovels and several bins behind the church for your use if you stop by to weed.  Leave the weeds in the plastic garbage can or bucket and I'll dump them.  Thanks.

June Fest, June 23 

Saturday, Noon to 4 pm

Free:  food, heritage celebration, QOHS drum line, Royal harmonizers, and more

Merikay spoke briefly about our native plant project at the June Fest program.  She was awarded the 2017 "Doers Do" award by Rev. Gerry Green for her work in obtaining and implementing the CBT grant at Pleasant View.  The Royal Harmonizers also received the "Doers Do" award for their 60+ years of singing -- and as a great treat to all present, we got to hear them perform.  

Tuesday, May 23, Free presentation "Native Plants for your Garden," 7 pm 

We learned about native plants for shade and sunny areas -- including many of the plants in our new Pleasant View garden.  Merikay spoke for an hour to a packed house covering how to design gardens for habitat, plant selection, sources of native plants and more.  If you missed this talk but want to learn, come to our next free lecture.  They'll be posted on our events page.  We'll host at least two more talks.

We began Earth Day, our first volunteer day at Pleasant View, with words and a prayer offered by Rev. Gerry Green.  Photos above from Lauris Hunter - click on photos above to seem all.

Photo from Celia Paulsen.

Photo from Celia Paulsen.

Earth Day at Pleasant View -- over 110 volunteers worked despite light rain.  Check out the photos below.  If you have some to add, email them to Merikay at

Click on the photo above to see a slideshow of the beginning stages of our Pleasant View landscaping project.  (22 photos) 

We're not yet done -- work continues through 2018.    

Click above to see more of our Pleasant View friends (10 photos). The last photos feature Esther Lyon's great grandson.  Please send me photos to add here.

Special Thanks:

Matt Markoff (above) spent two days scraping the sod from the planting areas.  We absolutely could not have done this project without his help.  Matt is a co-leader of Earth Stewardship East.  He also donated and delivered the piles of mulch that we used on Earth Day.  

Carolyn Thompson, a trustee of Pleasant View, spent days gathering the food/drinks and preparing the school for our event.

Dara Ballow-Giffen arranged for us to get 100 free perennials donated by Pope Farm -- and she picked them up for us and delivered them to Pleasant View.  Lee Anne Gelletly also donated substantial numbers of native plants from her garden.

Caitlin Moulton, professional photographer, donated her time to photograph our Earth Day event.  See her photos here:



Update - April 1

Thanks to Dara Ballow-Giffen we are receiving 100 donated native plants from Pope Farm Nursery.  This is a great help, particularly since Dara is willing to pick up the plants for us.  UAlso, Matthew Hanson has expressed interest in doing an Eagle Scout project at Pleasant View to create a path linking the sidewalk to our conservation landscaping.  I have been in contact with the MD State Highway Department and they have approved our plant list and planting design.  There is a drainage easement where Route 28 borders the property.  We have been distributing flyers throughout the community.  Please feel free to invite friends and neighbors to join us.  Carolyn Thompson of the Pleasant View Trustees is recruiting people from the Pleasant View and Fairhaven community.  The Trustees have had dead limbs removed from the large old tree at the corner of the property to prevent any hazards from falling branches.  They are also having an outside spigot installed at the school so we will have access to water for our plantings.

Photos from April 29 - a long work day at ~90 degrees.  Stalwart volunteers worked for hours in the heat -- thank you for your help.  Click above to see more photos.  To date between the four volunteer events we have had 200+ volunteers work on the conservation project!  This is the number of volunteers totaled from each of the events -- some people came to 2 or more events.

Update - May 1

We have almost completed the spring phase of our project.  One last volunteer event on Tuesday, May 2, and we will be done.  We need a handful of dedicated volunteers to water and care for a section of the garden.  Please contact Merikay at if you live close and can do this.  We'll divide the planted area into sections so each person has a manageable number of plants to water.  This is just needed as the plants get established.  Stop by and see what we've done.  I've already seen some bees visiting the plants.  In total we've had 200+ volunteers already help with the project.  They've learned something about native plants and our local history.  As part of the educational component we'll provide a free hour-long presentation on native plants including photos and descriptions of many of the plants we've installed at Pleasant View.  Come learn about native plants that might work for your home or neighborhood gardens:  Tuesday, May 23, 7 p.m. Pleasant View school house.

Old photo of the Pleasant View Church.  Unfortunately all of these mature trees are now gone and the front steps are overgrown.  As I talk to people in the community, many think the church is no longer in use.  They're wrong.  A small (~9) group of friendly folks meets there each Sunday - Mt. Olive Christian Church.  Helen Woods is their Pastor.  Stop by one of their services on Sunday morning. Sunday School at 10 am; Worship Service at 11:30 am.

Old photo of the Pleasant View Church.  Unfortunately all of these mature trees are now gone and the front steps are overgrown.  As I talk to people in the community, many think the church is no longer in use.  They're wrong.  A small (~9) group of friendly folks meets there each Sunday - Mt. Olive Christian Church.  Helen Woods is their Pastor.  Stop by one of their services on Sunday morning. Sunday School at 10 am; Worship Service at 11:30 am.

View on May 3 after beds are planted and mulch is applied.

View on May 3 after beds are planted and mulch is applied.

The plan

Above is a rough draft of the landscape design plan we will be developing.  Our proposal calls for planting more than 500 native trees, shrubs and perennials in a landscaped area just under 5,000 square feet along Darnestown Road.   The conservation landscape replaces weedy grass which slopes away from the church to a drain.  Our landscape will provide a visual buffer between the cemetery and street as well as improved storm water management and natural habitat. Additional trees and landscaping will be placed as noted in the design plan, including a shade garden under the mature tree at the property corner and landscaping at the front of the Quince Orchard Colored School.  We will install two rain barrels at the gutters of the church.  

Funds for a bench and stone path were not allowed in our grant.  We are looking for individuals or groups who might donate funds for these amenities which will greatly enhance the public's pleasure in visiting this site.  Contact Merikay if you wish to make a tax deductible donation towards these items.  

We welcome any individuals or groups to join with us on this project.  Leaders of the following environmental and faith groups have expressed support for our project:  Pleasant View Trustees, Muddy Branch Alliance, Seneca Creek Watershed Partnership, Fairhaven United Methodist Church, Mt. Olive Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Kentlands Ward), and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.  If your community group would like to participate in this project, please contact Merikay Smith at

Funds for this Pleasant View project come from the Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Fund through the Chesapeake Bay Trust.


Native Plants

Pleasant View Plant List

Trees:  24 total  – others by donation.  Some of these trees will be planted in Spring 2016, others in Fall 2017.  3 gallon – 15 gallon

Latin Name                                        Common Name                                Number of plants

Acer saccharum                               Sugar maple                                      2

Betula nigra 'Heritage'                     River birch                                       3

Cercis candensis                             Redbud                                            7 or more*

Cornus florida, ‘Appalacian’             Dogwood                                         7

Magnolia grandiflora                        Southern magnolia                          3* 

Magnolia virginiana                         Sweetbay magnolia                           2


We hope to include the non-native quince tree for Quince Orchard.   Cydonia oblonga.

Shrubs: 115 various sizes

Hibiscus moscheutos                      Rose mallow                                     22

Hydrangea quercifolia                     Oakleaf hydrangea                            8

Ilex glabra                                          Inkberry                                        13

Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf'           American holly dwarf                       14

Ilex verticillata                                   Winterberry                                    20

Juniperus virginiana ‘Gray Owl’       Juniper                                             18

Lindera benzoin                               Spicebush                                           5*

Morella caroliniensis                        Bayberry                                              6

Callicarpa Americana                       American beautyberry                         3*^

Cephalanthus occidentalis                Buttonbush (fall 2017)                       3^

Cornus stolonifera                            Red-osier dogwood                            3*^


Perennials:  395, various sizes

Asclepias incarnata                         Swamp milkweed                               5*

Asclepias tuberosa                          Butterfly milkweed                           16

Aster laevis, ‘Bluebird’                    Smooth blue aster                              5

Aster novae-angliae                        New England aster                           10**

Baptisia australis                              Wild blue indigo                              7** 

Coreopsis tripteris                            Tall tickseed (sign)                           15

Coreopsis verticillate, ‘Zagreb’         Tickseed                                           15  

Echinacea purpurea                          Purple coneflower                           50  

Eupatoreum maculatum                   Spotted Joe-pye weed                      15

Heliopsis helianthoides                     Ox eye sunflower                              9

Lilium canadense                              Canada lily                                      10

Monarda punctata                            Spotted bee-balm                            13

Monarda didyma                              Bee balm                                          15

Panicum virgatum                            Switchgrass                                      13

Penstemon digitalis                           Beardtongue (2018)                         13

Phlox paniculata, ‘David’                  Garden phlox (2018)                       10^

Phlox subulata                                  Moss phlox                                       20

Physostegia virginiana                      Obedient plant (2018)                       5

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium             Narrow-leafed mountain mint         10*

Rudbeckia fulgida                            Orange coneflower(20 sign)            45

Rudbeckia hirta                                Black-eyed susan                               50

Rudbeckia triloba                             Brown-eyed susan                               *

Schizachyrium scoparium                 Little blue-stem                                   7

Solidago canadensis                          Goldenrod                                           6*

Solidago rugosa, ‘Fireworks’             Goldenrod                                           6*

Yucca filamentosa                            Adam’s needle (sign)                           10


Brown-eyed susan will be transplanted from my garden as filler for gaps where shrubs will eventually grow. 

**Asters will be added in the fall to fill in gaps.

^ Beautyberry, buttonbush, red-twig dogwood and garden phlox will go in front of fence near drain.

Native grass: Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal' and 'Northwind' are of the blue-green leaf variety and 'Huron Solstice' has more burgandy-green foliage.  Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium is a smaller, blue-green grass.  Select based on available options.


Plants for shade under mature tree to be planted in 2018: 156 plants

Adiantum pedatum                          Northern maidenhair fern               5

Aquilegia canadensis                         Eastern columbine                         10

Athyrium filix-femina                       Northern lady fern                           5

Clethra alnifolia                                Summersweet                                   3

Dennstaedtia punctilobula               Hay-scented fern                               5

Dryopteris intermedia                      Evergreen wood fern                       10

Dryopteris marginalis                       Evergreen shield fern                         5

Kalmia angustifolia                          Lambkill                                            3

Lobelia siphilitica                             Great blue lobelia                              5

Mertensia virginica                          Bluebells                                           10

Polystichuym acrostichoides            Christmas fern                                  10

Arisaema triphyllum                         Jack-in-the-pulpit                             10

Asarum canadense                           Wild ginger                                        10

Dicentra canadense                          Squirrel corn                                       5

Dicentra eximia                                Wild bleeding hearts                          5

Iris cristata                                        Dwarf crested iris                             10

Delphinium tricorne                         Dwarf larkspur                                 10

Geranium maculatum                       Wild Geranium                                 10

Tradescantia virginiana                     Spiderwort                                         10

Zizia aurea                                        Golden alexanders                               5


Plants marked * are donated and not counted in the total for cost estimates.

No plants are listed for beds around the schoolhouse.  This area will only be planted if there are enough volunteers and extra plant funds. 

Substitutions may occur depending on plant availability and price.  I will contact three local vendors and will select the best combination of price and plant quality.  I have some information from Stadler Nurseries but they do not yet have their final 2017 plant list or pricing.  I have not yet heard back from the other vendors.  The Stadler pricing shows trees as less (except for magnolias) but perennials and some shrubs for more than the estimated costs.

I don’t yet have the actual costs.  Comparing this plant list pricing against the grant application, there is an increase of about $600.  As these prices are all only estimates, I may have to adjust our plant list to stay within budget.





Photos above from Linda Stein, April 29.