For the birds: Oriole Garden opens with special mission

New area will attract native orioles, teach fans about wildlife, conservation

For the birds: Oriole Garden opens with special mission

BALTIMORE-- Rain has pummeled the Baltimore area throughout much of the spring, a big reason the Orioles' home games have often involved cool weather, rain and wind -- or all three at once.

But during three days of that kind of weather last week, several people spent lots of time planting about 12,000 plants --- in 26 different species -- in a garden that's a long fly ball from a gate near right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority dedicated this new, native plant garden at the ballpark on Thursday morning.

Photo gallery: Dedication of Oriole Garden at Camden Yards

The Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority have joined the National Wildlife Federation and its Maryland state affiliate, the National Aquarium, in dedicating this garden. It will be called "The Oriole Garden," and it's part of the National Wildlife Federation's Grow Together Baltimore program, which works with local communities to create green spaces which help the residents of Baltimore in different ways.

Chante Coleman, the deputy director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition (hosted in the National Wildlife Federation's Mid-Atlantic Regional office, the partner responsible for putting the event together), said they put in about 18 hours of work over the three days, working through the rain and soggy conditions.

"It was muddy gardening, [a] fun event," she said with a smile. "It went a little bit slower than we thought. But it's always worth it."

Coleman said that all of the plants should bloom in the next year or so. This garden will have native plants which attract pollinators and birds -- including the Baltimore Oriole bird -- which need habitat in urban and suburban area for survival. The North American Breeding Bird Survey said that the population of this bird has fallen throughout their range due to deforestation and habitat loss.

Orioles "Go Green" initiatives

"The Baltimore Oriole is an important part of our history and the symbol of our deeply-rooted connection to Baltimore and this region," said Lou Kousouris, vice president/special liaison to chairman of the Orioles. "This garden will be a great educational resource that not only provides a home to oriole birds but teaches the millions of fans who attend games at Oriole Park about how to protect wildlife, appreciate nature and preserve our environment."

The garden is located in a spot where numerous fans will be able to walk past it regularly before and after games -- as well as on days when there is no baseball. It's colorful and will be filled with plenty of orange flowers, the colors which will make Baltimore fans take some notice.

So all of that work in the rain and the partnerships that made this garden happen will be paying off in the coming months, giving Oriole Park at Camden Yards some flowers as well as helping a beloved bird.

"At the Stadium Authority, we try to be about continuous improvement in everything we do," said Michael Frenz, the Maryland Stadium Authority's executive director. "I can't wait to see this area in bloom and see the bird orioles hanging out here."

Overall, the Oriole Garden came to life in partnership with Blue Water Baltimore and the National Aquarium and through the support of Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as well as private donors.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.