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The Greening of Calvert

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

Calvert Garden Clubbers, from left, Pat Beyer, Marty Parker, Mary Berkley and Joyce Fletcher hold the Della Robbia that adorns Calvert’s courthouse.

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.
    “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.
    Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.
    The finished greens are loaded onto county trucks to green Main Street Prince Frederick.
    Peggy Cochran, Calvert Garden Club chairwoman, knows just where everything goes.
    “Twenty-two wreaths will adorn the courthouse windows and the law offices across the street. Eight will go to the annex. Thirty-one of the evergreen sprays will decorate the lampposts, with seven more on the pathways,” Cochran says.
    “The gazebo gets roping and sprays; Calvert Historical Society Linden House gets two grapevine wreaths. And the Della Robbia goes on the courthouse door,” Cochran says with pride.
    It takes a village to decorate Main Street. Under eight dozen watchful eyes, five county workers load the greenery onto their trucks.
    Their reward is a free wreath each and lunch.
    “It’s a pretty good deal,” says supervisor Joe Denton.
    Ten more county workers are waiting on Main Street for delivery. They’re the guys who climb the ladders and hang the greens from lampposts and high places.
    The greening is a 77-year tradition. It started with Betty Briscoe, wife of Dr. Phillip Briscoe, in 1936, when the small garden club became a member of the national federation of garden clubs.
    Back then, a single wreath was hung on the courthouse door.
    The greening — like the garden club, with 55 active members — has grown over the years.
    On January 2, all that greenery is  disassembled and recycled.