During the 1800s the property on which the Sherwood Gardens is located was part of the Guilford estate of A. S. Abell, founder of The Baltimore Sun. The site of the gardens was a pond, which was filled in when the area was developed for housing in 1912.
Sherwood Gardens was created in the 1920's by John W. Sherwood, local petroleum pioneer and conservationist. Begun as a hobby, and planted by Mr. Sherwood with tulips that he imported from the Netherlands, the gardens have become known as the most famous tulip garden in North America. They cover Stratford Green, one of the original parks laid out by the Olmsted Brothers for the enjoyment of the residents of Guilford, and several adjacent building lots purchased by Mr. Sherwood. His own house adjoined the gardens at 204 East Highfield Road.
When Mr. Sherwood died in 1965, he bequeathed sufficient funds to continue the gardens for one year. After that period, the Guilford Association purchased the additional lots from the Sherwood estate and took responsibility for its care. The City of Baltimore also has helped with contributions toward the cost of tulip purchase and maintenance.
Approximately 80,000 tulip bulbs are planted annually along with other spring flowering bulbs. Dogwoods, flowering cherries, wisteria and magnolias bloom throughout the garden. One will also enjoy the brightly colored azaleas and old English boxwoods which were particular favorites of Mr. Sherwood. Some of these plants date back as far as the 18th century, collected from gardens of Colonial estates in Southern Maryland. The garden has always been at its best toward the end of April and beginning of May. Adding to the beauty and uniqueness of the present day garden are the numerous varieties of rare trees which comprised another aspect of Mr. Sherwood's particular interests. During the mid-summer months the beds of the gardens are planted with masses of annuals thanks to the adopt-a-plot effort of the Guilford Association.
More than six acres in size, Sherwood Gardens has no gates, fences or other barriers. The public may stroll at leisure through the grounds. There is no admission charge and a reservation is not required.