Penny Abbey, Landscape Tech Supervisor, with the University of Maryland Landscape Services will be retiring on January 31, 2020. Penny started her career at UMD in May, 1989 under the guidance of Jack Andrews, a maintenance chief for Grounds Maintenance as Landscape Services was called back in the day, in an entry level position known as a series 40 Groundskeeper.
Penny grew up in Point Pleasant, New Jersey about 1 mile from the ocean in the famous 'Garden State'. She has always loved flowers and had an African Violet collection in high school. Her last year of high school, Penny worked for a company that raised and sold flowers and produce at a farm stand. Guessing that she might have raised some of the world famous 'Jersey Tomatoes' developed by Rutgers University. Once I used very large, ripe tomatoes from a farm stand near Salem, New Jersey to make a wonderful tomato soup that I have never been able to replicate! Possibly because I never had the opportunity to get inexpensive, fully ripened New Jersey Tomatoes again.
Penny worked at a photo lab among other places before moving to this area to be closer to her family and getting her position at the University of Maryland. Penny has enjoyed the variety of different people that she has been able to work with over the years at UMD as well as being able to work with many different kinds of flowers. Penny has enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about the difference in backgrounds of a diverse group of coworkers and how that they may think differently than her, because of their unique backgrounds.
When asked as to what was her favorite plant, Penny did not hesitate to state 'Tulips'! That did not come as surprise to me as I have observed some magnificent plantings of tulips by Penny and her crew in the years that I have been here. See photos below! Penny introduced the use of Colorblends Tulip mixes to campus, long before that I and many others started working at UMD. The spring bulb blends by this company were and still are amazing! Penny first introduced the use of these tulips in a groundcover bed with a sculpture near a west entrance to the Chemistry Building, when that she was under the direction of Skip (Dwight Crutchfield).
Bird watching is a hobby of Penny that has led to a number of trips to destinations where that the primary goal was to be able to watch birds. She is a big fan of foreign films. She is interested in literature discussing the Holocaust and has a small library of books on the subject. Penny is an ardent supporter of animal rights.
Advice for home gardeners? 'Patience is a virtue' comes to mind for Penny as a number of good plants need to be nurtured.
Advice to young people? 'Money isn't everything; take care of your body and expand your mind' is sage advice from Penny.
Who influenced her the most positively over the years at Landscape Services? Penny would like to give special thanks to Joseph Cook, Jr, Manager at UMD Arboretum and Landscape Services, for being a mentor, life coach, great boss and a wonderful human being.
Penny wishes the best of luck to all of those coworkers that remain behind after her retirement. Please stop by and say goodby to Penny before her last day on January 31, 2020. The University of Maryland will be missing a wealth of knowledge and creativity when Penny retires as she is a very talented horticulturist!
Penny's most intensely managed area with gardens in recent years has been at the entrance to the Child Youth Center (CYC). The traffic circle in front has seen many changes over the years as Penny likes to try new plants there.
Below are some photos taken on April 16th, 2014 of a spectacular planting of tulips in front of Jull Hall that Penny ordered for her and her crew to install the previous fall. There have been many other such exciting bulb plantings over the years by Penny and her crew in multiple locations around campus such as at the Child Youth Center, LaPlata Beach, the Health and Human Performance Building, the University Farm, the former Presidents Home before the new University House was installed etc.
Another inspirational planting that Penny designed was of late spring/early summer blooming Alliums (more than 1 cultivar) weaving between and emerging at the edge of Maiden Grass (Miscanthesis sinensis) in the parking lot island bed in front of the Child Youth Center. The below photos were taken on May 23, 2013.
Below are photos taken by an unknown photographer earlier in Penny's career, sometime prior to 2006.