Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

 Employee Spotlight

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.


  1. What a wonderful person she is, an inspiration for everyone,

  2. What a lovely tribute And well deserved. And by the way, Penny is my sister.


Contact Information for the University of Maryland Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Mailing and Shipping address (This is the location of our partner, UMD Landscape Services, and the office of our Assistant Director, Karen Petroff):
University of Maryland
Wye Oak Building (428)
4201 Landscape Ln.
College Park, MD 20742-7215
phone: 301-405-3320
fax: 301-314-9943
hours: 6 am to 2:30 pm, M-F

Horticulturist's Offices and Meeting Room (No mail delivery or shipping to this location):
University of Maryland
Arboretum Outreach Center (156)
3931 Stadium Dr.
College Park, MD 20742
phone: 301-405-3320
fax: 301-314-9943
hours: 7 am to 3:30 pm, M-F, by appointment or prescheduled times only, as sometimes everyone is out on campus and the building will be locked

When using the UMD Campus Map, you can click on a building name and the street address of that building and other information about that building should come up in a pop up window.

blog administrator, Sam Bahr, 301-405-7926 or 301-405-3320
e-mail: sbahr@umd.edu

updated 1/30/20


Our gardens are free and open to the public. There are some parking lots (read the signs for that parking lot carefully) that are free to park in after 4 pm and before 7 am and on weekends, except on game days and during other special events. There is public parking in four large parking garages at the rate of $3 per hour with a daily maximum of $15. On weekends in the garages, the rate is $3 per hour with a daily maximum rate of $5 per hour. There is a small amount of additional pay parking along some streets.

Navigation around campus is much easier with this interactive campus map. You can look up parking locations and building locations using this map. Use the search tab to bring up the page to search for campus building names, locations and addresses. If you click on a building name on this interactive campus map, a popup window should appear with the address and other details about the building.

updated 10/6/2015

Butterfly feeding on the nectar of Russian Sage blossoms

General Information about the UMD Arboretum and Botanical Garden

The University of Maryland, the state’s flagship campus, is located in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The American Association of Public Gardens, by designating the university as an arboretum and botanical garden in 2008, recognized former President C.D. Mote, Jr.’s commitment to becoming a green campus. Maryland is also the first university in the state to be honored as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The Arboretum and Botanical Garden consists of our entire 1,250 acre College Park, Maryland campus. The Campus collection of over 8,000 trees, garden plantings and nearly 400 acres of undeveloped urban forest is a beautiful reminder of Maryland’s history and a harbinger of Maryland’s future. The university looks at the campus’ green space as a major resource for its educational, research and service missions.

Hornbake Plaza

Hornbake Plaza
Honeylocust fall foliage color

University of Maryland Arboretum Explorer or UMD ABG Explorer (Tree and Shrub Inventory)

You can look up the identity of many trees and shrubs using this interactive campus map: https://maps.umd.edu/abg/. Herbaceous plants and even some small woody plants are not a part of this inventory. It is still a work in progress and we do not consider it a complete or entirely up to date inventory.

Our plant inventory or plant collections database can also be considered a plant database, plant search, plant locator, plant finder, plant collection database, living collections management system, plant records system or plant mapping system for campus plantings.

updated 1/30/20

Image and Link to the Interactive Campus Map Showing the Campus Plant Inventory

Tawes Plaza Gardens

Tawes Plaza Gardens
Kim's Knee High Purple Coneflower, Russian Sage, White Out Rose and Dwarf Pampas Grass are featured in this planting in 2010.