Another Round With the Bloomers

Last Saturday was a big day, it marked the 9th Tour of the Back Mountain Gardens, held every other year here in this neck of Pennsylvania.  It’s one of the biggest gardening events for the area and over the years has raised in excess of $100,000 for the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association as well as entertaining and inspiring gardeners galore as they nose around some of the best local gardens on the ‘backside’ of our valley’s western mountains.

As usual we had a great time, the weather was perfect for touring, the event was flawlessly organized, vendors and presentations were both interesting and entertaining, and of course all the gardens were great!

backmountain garden tour

Our first stop, a decidedly formal garden with a grand entry.

Because of non-gardening things and a possible Emergency room visit, we were a little pressed for time, so right out of the gate made an executive decision to visit the newly opened Back Mountain Bloomers Trailhead and Judith and David Rimple Loop Trail at some other time.  Our first official gardentour stop became the ‘Fit For a Wedding’ estate.  Besides wowing visitors with an elegant entry and classic landscaping throughout, this venue also provided the setting for the club’s horticultural exhibits which filled the back patios with wedding themed arrangements and displays.

backmountain garden tour

I loved the porches.  There was a different one for each beverage of the day, all complete with comfy seating and a beautiful view.  The white-themed planters and baskets were perfect as well, and the climbing hydrangea coming up from below couldn’t have looked nicer.  

A spacious lawn with woodland views all around made for a nice setting of pool and gazebo.  If asked, I would suggest having my lunch out here.

backmountain garden tour

The climbing clematis were perfect but the hydrangea were being a little lazy, just like most of the blue hydrangeas grown around here.  A sea of white ‘Annabelle’ or one of the blue lacecap hydrangeas would have been awesome!

There was a lot more to this garden, peony plantings, roses, specimen trees, but our tour was a little off and we were a little rushed so much was missed, but we did get to stroll around front and admire the color and fountains of the front garden.

backmountain garden tour

A soothing spot with the sound of water.  

The second stop on our tour brought us to the old Pinebrook Grove picnic pavillion, now transformed into a spacious home and entertaining area complete with a kitchen large enough to fit ten along the breakfast bar and a living space which looked party-ready.  Outside, the massive patio was ready for summer parties and poolside lounging.

backmountain garden tour

Just a small bit of the patio.  Of course since I was distracted by the garden I only vaguely remember a swimming pool and more umbrellas and seating than one could imagine, but they were there as well.

I was told that most of this landscape was designed and built by the homeowner’s family.  Not bad at all!

backmountain garden tour

Of course I loved the pond.  It was a perfect centerpiece to the yard and I wouldn’t mind dipping my feet into the crystal clear water.  I bet it’s very popular with the smaller garden visitors as well.

Our next stop took us to a shady garden ’embellished’ by nature and structured with over 40 year’s worth of stonewall building and earth moving.  The home sat perfectly on the shaded lot, and woodland plants came right up to the house in a way that makes you think of songbirds and bunnies and everything summery.

backmountain garden tour

A stone raven greets visitors at the front entrance.

The homeowners of this property are the energy behind ‘Embellish’, a Dallas, PA home-gift-antiques store which is one of our must visit stops during the holiday season.  In addition to an open garden the doors to the home were open as well, and I’d like to think it doesn’t always look so put together and cozy but it probably does.

backmountain garden tour

A corner of the living room set up for the tour, but the rest of the house looked just as everyday amazing.

Leaving the house, the garden had a real cool and calming feel as well.  Open enough for a breeze, yet planted up enough so that you know you’re part of the garden.  Plus plenty of stone walls and a firepit are win-wins in my book.

backmountain garden tour

Spiderwort and ‘Invincibelle’ hydrangea,  both looking perfectly fresh in the dappled shade.

backmountain garden tour

Just your average garden shed.  Perfectly painted to match the house, plus a nice mossy path out front.

Leaving the ‘Embellished’ garden we headed out to the ‘Labor of Love’ garden… with a strong emphasis on the labor part, as evidenced by the stonework which greets visitors at the front.

backmountain garden tour

Stone steps and tiers of retaining walls tame the slope along the street.  I can only imagine the hours of labor which went into fitting these walls together, since they’re nothing like the thrown-together walls you often see.

The hardscape and paths and “rooms” of this garden were one thing, but the plantings were also at another level.  This looked like a garden where the owner was suffering from a little bit of a plant obsession, and every inch of the yard had something special going on, in spite of the homeowner’s claim that the garden was more of a ‘Hard Rock Deer Cafe’.

backmountain garden tour

The sunny front terraces were overflowing with a mix of small rockgarden plants, all kinds of sedums, and spots of annual color here and there.  ‘Tapestry of plants’ would be a good description for all the low-growing treasures in this bed.

The back garden was equally as obsessive.  Perfect grass paths brought you from area to area and the whole garden stretched out below the overlooking decks and patio.

backmountain garden tour

Full sun vegetables and flowers sat up by the deck, with beds of all kinds of shrubs and trees filling the lower areas.  There was quite a slope to the backyard as well, but the layout of grass paths made it very relaxed.

I felt quite at home in the back.  There were a bunch of things with yellow and chartreuse foliage and I do have a bias towards anything with a lighter leaf, so in my opinion it was brilliant 😉

backmountain garden tour

Shady beds in back, again filled with all sort of goodies.  Everything seemed quite happy and in perfect condition.  

This garden gave me hope.  There were photos of an empty lawn with just a few bushes in the early days and now to see plants everywhere and a garden surrounding the house means that the same could happen here.  My new excuse will be it’s coming along and if you can just imagine it in thirty more years….

But then I noticed the stone work which was going up onto the foundation, and had already been finished across the front and up the chimney of the house and I realized this was a much more ambitious soul.

backmountain garden tour

Looking up towards the shaded side garden and patio.

Off to the next stop, this one being a ‘garden getaway’ of ponds and waterfalls, pools and patios, and an outdoor kitchen  large enough to accommodate all the people who are sure to show up.

backmountain garden tour

Right off the house is a shaded patio surrounded by running water and restful scenery.  This would definitely be my favorite spot to relax.

Again in this garden I heard that the homeowner was responsible for much of the work.  Again I felt just a little inadequate looking around at the landscaping and focal points.  It really made for a nice garden retreat and I was more than a little tempted to outstay my welcome and ask what’s for dinner.

backmountain garden tour

There were quite a few nice containers planted up for summer.  There was one really nice planter filled with shades of blue which I regret missing out on photographing.

Here’s one last photo of the patio.  I almost left this out since I know someone here will mention that our own outdoor area lacks a grilling/smoking/kitchen facility and will ask why that’s the case.

backmountain garden tour

Not too shabby.  I was also a little envious of the big green egg sitting at the far end of the kitchen… just waiting to cook up something delicious.

So that rounded out this year’s tour.  There was still one more garden which we regrettably had to cut out of our circuit since we were on an unfortunately tight schedule, and we had to rush past too many of the displays, but overall it was a great day with tons of friendly people and helpful hosts and wonderful locations.  Even the rain held off long enough to make the day even more successful.

Thanks to all the Garden Bloomers who put countless hours into preparing for this day.  I know they don’t want to even think about it but I’m already looking forward to the next tour which will mark the 20 year milestone for this event.  It will be exceptional I’m sure.

Have a great week!

15 comments on “Another Round With the Bloomers

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    My favorite garden here was the ‘getaway’ one – I can imagine sitting there at the end of a long day listening to the water ‘music.’
    I love garden tours (i.e. snooping in other folks gardens), though I haven’t been on one in years. Need to change that! Though tiring being on one’s feet all day, it is inspirational to see what others have created. But I can firmly say that there won’t be an outdoor kitchen in my future! 😉

    • bittster says:

      Seeing these gardens also has me wanting a nice trickle of water music here. I don’t have a nearby creek to escape to so it would be nice to mask the traffic noise a bit!
      It is a fun day when you can snoop through your neighbor’s yards and talk plants with other nerds. It doesn’t happen often enough in my opinion!

      • Eliza Waters says:

        I know what you mean about needing to talk ‘plant’ with someone on the same level. That’s the appeal of blogging. Maybe someday I’ll attend an annual Garden Bloggers Bash– gardeners, bloggers and gardens for 3 days!
        I’ve had a water feature in my front garden for maybe 20 years (?) and it is one of things most remarked about by visitors as we sit on the porch. Originally it was a large 5 x 6 ‘butterfly’ liner with built in shelves for bog plants and water lilies in the deep part. It took hours to clean and fall and spring prep became too much to deal with, so when the power company had to replace the underground line (yep, right UNDER the liner and porch, in JANUARY), I downsized to an oval 15 gal. livestock trough and put the pump in that. Same music, and only 15 min. to clean. Easy-peasy, what took me so long?

  2. Rock walls always enchant me. They draw me into a garden and make me wishful. I so would love a wall. One of these days it will come to me where I can stack one of them. Sigh… I think you did good with a abbreviated tour. I hope all is well with your group. ER sounds serious. I love garden tours even if they are too formal, too wet our just outrageous. One can always see things you want and want to do. FUN.

    • bittster says:

      You’re right. Even if the garden doesn’t blow you away there’s always something to enjoy or some ideas to pick up. I’ve picked up the idea that buying rocks might not be the most foolish thing to do. After years of digging hauling and squirreling away every bit of stone it might be time to just order a pallet and really live the life! Hmmmmm 🙂
      All tour members are back up to touring condition, thanks for the concern. It was a 3 hr in and out at the hospital, and that’s kind of what I expected… but I needed to not miss the gardens!

  3. Diane Burick says:

    All the homes and gardens were spectacular! Looking forward to the next one! Well planned and easy to get around, a Saturday well spent!

    • bittster says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Diane. Isn’t it nice to have something like this right here close to home? I always enjoy getting around, seeing local gardens, and meeting new friends!

  4. Indie says:

    What gorgeous gardens! I especially loved the one with a pond and a waterfall, as I am a little obsessed with water features like that. The other one with waterfalls looked so relaxing too. The Labor of Love one was so beautiful with its rock walls. That’s very impressive that many of those home owners did the work themselves!

    • bittster says:

      I’ve been obsessing about water features ever since the tour. Maybe this will finally be the year something happens (as has been said several times before…). Water is always so nice to have to begin with, a little gurgle and spray can make it even more fun, and then a few frogs and dragonflies really puts icing on the cake.

  5. Wow, love that water feature.

  6. Cathy says:

    Well, you certainly managed to see plenty in a day, depsite the tight schedule. Some great gardens to inspire me to try harder! 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    • bittster says:

      Cathy, I hate to say it but when I got back home I looked around and kind of felt a little disappointed. I’m quite happy to putter around here, but so often it just looks a mess! I guess we all can use inspiration and new ideas 🙂

  7. I am going to take this tour one of these years. Looks fabulous! P.x

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