The “big house,” at 8 Revell Street, is compact yet impressive. (Photo by Micheal Rhian Driscoll)

The 2019 Secret Garden Tour, a self-guided ramble in early June through the streets of Annapolis to visit some 15 privately owned gardens revealed horticultural and architectural treasures seldom seen by the public though they have been known to attract repeat visits over the years.
The sites included homes on Duke of Gloucester Street, Market Street, Shipwright Street, Revell Street, and Shipwright Harbor. Guided by volunteer docents and certain of the property owners, it was a beautiful beginning to the summer tourist season.
Beverly Chase-Dillon of Mesa, Ariz., and her daughter Ellen Chase of Annapolis are long time fans and participants of the event.
They said they especially love the John Ridout House at 120 Duke of Gloucester Street.
Built in 1764 it’s an imposing pre-Revolutionary structure across from St. Mary’s High School.
The location, owned by the Rideout family for over nine generations, lives up to the term “secret garden,” with a multi-level garden on a slope that can be appreciated for its series of smaller areas featuring peonies, crepe myrtle, several trees and rose bushes.
According to Elizabeth Chisolm, a former resident of the house and member of the Ridout family, these include one hardy more than 200-year-old rosebush, said to have been a gift from Martha Washington, wife of the first U.S. President.
Chisel’s husband Reggie expressed his pride, having lived in a house George Washington visited.
Of the site, Chase-Dillon said she “loves it, there’s so much space, it’s amazing. We come every year and it’s always a pleasant surprise to see how the house and gardens go so smoothly together.“
Jacqueline Ploof a resident since 2005 of 183 Green Street, also called the Retallick-Brewer House built in the 1780’s, with her husband, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate summarized her enjoyment of their historic and intimate settings quite simply.
“Home is where the heart is,” she said.
The features of the house are mostly visible from the street and feature two raised beds of four yew trees, along with peony, rose, columbine, daylily, lambs ear and other flowers.
She also pointed out the period iron work around the house, and the historic-looking shed towards the backyard, created from repurposed wood.
Built in 1903, the home at 8 Revell Street was rescued by Rick and Cathy Sheahan about 26 years ago from years of neglect that nearly caused it’s demise.
Rick called it a long term “labor of love.”
As you enter the garden, there is a wonderful vista of part of the city’s back creeks.
The garden is laid out in seven layers, inspired by Hindu-based design principles combined with a cottage effect.
The array of plants include wisteria, ivy covered stones, azaleas, zinnias, dogwood, hosta, hydrangea, pansies and a variety herbs.
For more information on historic homes & garden-related events in Annapolis, Md., visitors can contact The Hammond-Harwood House, 410-263-4683.