Ornamental Gardens

The Ornamental Gardens are a large, sunlit space, designed to be colorful and welcoming in all seasons. Spring is the time to see pink cherry blossoms and a sea of daffodils in the Cook Memorial Garden, named for Harold and Frances Cook who were pivotal to the early development of the historic site and gardens. A great variety of perennials, shrubs, annuals and tender perennials keep the Lillian S. Hall Memorial Garden filled with color throughout the growing season. The Hall Garden is named for an Anne Arundel County native and dedicated supporter of the gardens at London Town. This garden also includes exotic and native trees, which provide structure and surprising moments of beauty throughout the year. The Japanese flowering apricot, for example, blooms in late winter often before the earliest spring bulbs emerge. Southern magnolias offer huge, intoxicatingly fragrant white flowers in June and July. And the two dwarf crepe myrtles, on either side of the river deck, offer a veil of white flowers through the late summer heat and display their smooth tan bark in winter. The river deck affords a breathtaking view of the South River and is the scene of many weddings and ceremonies. 

 Although there are many beautiful plants in London Town’s Ornamental Garden, the peony collection is perhaps the best known and most loved. Starting in late April and continuing into June, the many forms of peonies — tree, herbaceous and fern leaf — combine to create a display of flowers that is unparalleled. Peonies have been well-loved for centuries because of their large, lush flowers, handsome foliage and exotic origins. They are relatively easy to grow in sun, survive for decades and yet do not outgrow their spot in the garden. They are also remarkably distasteful to deer and other wildlife. These characteristics, combined with their fragrance and long life as a cut flower, make them a popular garden plant. In these beds you will find herbaceous peonies with green fleshy stems and white, pink or red flowers. The stems and foliage die back to the ground every winter, but the plants themselves are quite hardy. Japanese and Chinese tree peonies, with woody stems that remain standing in winter, are also very long lived, come in a great variety of colors, and can take some shade. In ancient China, tree peonies could only be grown in the gardens of the royal family and a commoner who possessed one of these rarities could be put to death. Near the entry to the garden you may have noticed the third type of peony, a fern leaf peony, with feathery foliage and ruby red blossoms.

After the peonies have finished blooming, the gardens may seem quiet for a spell. In fact, they are gearing up for the summer-long display of daylilies, coneflowers, salvias, roses, hydrangeas, spiraeas, blue mist shrubs, chaste trees, rose of Sharon and a host of tender foliage and flowering plants that vary from year to year. It is not an exaggeration to say that one can almost always find something of interest in the Ornamental Garden.


Public Hours

Public Hours

Wednesday - Saturday
Noon - 4:30pm


$10 - Adults
$9 - Seniors (62+)
$5 - Youth (7-17)
Free - Children 6 and younger

What's in Bloom