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