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