The Berks-Mont News (

Beauty on display at the OJR Friends of the Arts Annual Garden Tour

By Peg Welcomer, For 21st Century Media

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

To paraphrase the poet Robert Browning, “Oh to be in our Tri-County areas, now that June is here....” The time for azaleas and rhododendrons is over; Most tulips, crocuses, daffodils, eranthis have all pulled grassy blankets over their heads. So now what can we look forward to? Ah, June, wonderful season of ROSES, lilies, annuals, perennials, daisies, snapdragons, sweet william, lovely scented hanging baskets on wrap-around porches. In back yards, the geometric designs of our vegetable gardens. And this year the Owen J. Roberts Friends of the Arts will take advantage of all the special ambience of floral June. From 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday, June 8, gardens from the Pottstown area in the east to Geigertown in the west, and south to rural Honey Brook, will be on display.
The artist-owner of one of our most unusual gardens, displays his ability to incorporate a floral background which emphasizes his contemporary sculptures of unique metal designs . He also uses traditional blacksmithing techniques to achieve a partnership pleasing to the eye. Unusual materials showcase this artist’s works. This property boasts secluded woodsy areas which also display unique sculptures. There are planted intervals accompanied by a slow-moving stream. Some have called this artist’s garden area a “creative super hideaway.”
It is an honor for Owen J. Roberts to present a former president of the American Herb Society. Her garden was on our first tour years ago. She belongs to several garden organizations and has been in demand as a lecturer. Although her garden will not be included in our 2013 Tour, her greenhouse will be accessible. However, while walking up the drive to the greenhouse, guests will be able to view her front garden area. The owner, an authority on propagating geraniums (pelargoniums), has agreed to allow our guests to purchase some of her own plants. These are not sold in stores.
We are so happy to have a truly lovely, idealistic garden on our tour. This is a free-form garden, at the top of a long, lovely lane. While strolling along the scenic drive, notice the picturesque pond which graceful swans call “home sweet home”. There are numerous unusual plants which grace the lovely patio. This is a pastoral site, containing fields and woods, filled with free-form plantings.
The relaxing scenic quietude of this country estate has to be seen and felt, to be believed.
One of the East Coast’s finest bonsai creators lives in the Chester County area. Not only is he a creator, but lectures and conducts classes by appointment. His hundreds of bonsai sculptures have been seen in past and present prestigious Philadelphia Flower Shows. Bordering his oriental garden containing conifers, statuary and bonsai, a flowing creek lends a musical air of serenity. And yes, there is a bench for our guests to take in this one-of-kind “relaxing, nostalgic, quiet atmosphere of the east.”
You are invited to an unusual area in the western site of our Tour. One of the owners is a “multi-tasker” -- an established artist, an architect, a cartographer, and also a prestigious Master Gardner who is busy, currently lecturing. She also is listed as an accredited exhibitor at the world famous Philadelphia Flower Show (you saw some of her work at this spring’s exhibit.) This couple has just completed a new greenhouse which our guests may visit. This is home to an unusual bonsai display.
Nearby is a 19th century mill surrounded by old stone walls and informal gardens, including a raised vegetable garden and many native shrubs and perennials. Connecting areas “pull you” into the next garden room. Guests may revel in the sight of native azaleas and rhodies, goat’s beard, golden alexanders, coral bells, irises, daylilies, peonies, late-spring blooming bulbs, roses, clematis, hydrangeas.
“Old Mill Perennials-Where promiscuous plants have a following”-- contains some unusual plant material as well as the best of the tried and true favorites. History buffs should know that this site is listed on the National Historic Registry for Paul Geiger’s Grist Mill circa1784. This small farm is situated on four acres, traversed by pristine Cold Run Creek. Unique to this setting are native ephemerals such as trout lily, mayapple, skunk cabbage and dandelion. There is also a handsome metasequoia glyptostroboides that graces this owner’s home. The gardens are now being renovated with old loves and new ones, including ilex verticillata, viburnums, red and yellow twig dogwoods, cornus alternifolia, crataegus, and three recently planted aesculus pavia. Along with a small peach and apple orchard, this site is home to ducks, geese, chickens, and a goat. If some of our guests are interested, there might be a few of the owner’s plants for sale.
The William Hendrick Garden at St. Peter United Church of Christ, Route 23 Knauertown, is called “a garden of cheerful greeting.” A small garden, this surrounds the front and right side of the Church Social Hall. This was planned and planted by Bill Hendrick who still tends this lovely space. Through the winter small conifers create a hospitable entry. Spring, summer and fall, colorful perennials return, to be accompanied by new vivid annuals which are sheltered by carefully chosen shrubs. Luncheon may be purchased here from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Restrooms available (handicapped accessible). There is plenty of good parking in the Church Parking Lot.
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site contains vestiges of our past history, but also is home to plants that are not commonly seen elsewhere. The Master Gardeners of Berks County are the ladies responsible for the planting and maintenance of the gardens. Some of the ladies will be present, in period costume to discuss and interpret the Polinator and Herb Gardens. Many of these plants are used for medicinal purposes. Two costumed women will discuss the “dye” garden. There will be samples of wool and cloth dyed with the various plants. All the plants in the Herb and Dye gardens were supposed to have been grown previously at Hopewell and are thought have been planted with other plants common in the 1700’s. The pollinator garden is planted with native plants that attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. All buildings will be open today for our Tour guests. There also is a small store.
As Shakespeare so aptly said, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This garden area, contained within a one-hundred-acre farm, will testify that seeing is truly believing. In the front of his house the owner has planted colorful annuals and perennials. However, behind his house in an Old English Garden setting, there are several hundred English sculptured boxwoods, grass paths separating special Rose beds-a total of 130 distinct cultivars. No Rosarian should miss this unusual garden. Our guests will bear witness to the owner’s expertise and creativity in planting a rose-lovers “Double Delight” in an atmosphere of fragrance and color, as well as a meticulous sense of order.
Ticket/maps available for a $10 donation fee. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Proceeds from this event will be used to fund scholarships for needy students who are pursuing a career in the arts. The tickets may be purchased at the following locations: OJR Admin. Bldg., Rtes 23 and 100, Monday to Friday, School hours only; Agway Garden Center and Farm Store, Route 100 at Pughtown Road; Ludwig’s Corner Hardware, Route 100 near 401; Tacie’s Café and Bakery (formerly Coventry Tea Room) 1161 Ridge Road/Route 23 The Bakery & Cafe’ at St. Peters Village, 1141 St. Peters Road; Paoolo’s Pizza Route 23 near 345; Shear Heaven Hair Salon, 70 West Main Street (Route 23) Elverson; Clais’s Family Restaurant, Main Street (Route 23) Morgantown; and Saturday June 8 from 8:30 to I 1:30 only, outside the OJR Administration Bldg.
Garden tour questions? Please call Carol at 610 326 5301 or Peg at 610 286 9805
Pouring rain date for this event is Sunday, June 9, 10 AM – 4 PM
General OJR Questions - Please call Mary Lou Fulmer at the Senior High School Office 610-469-5720 during school hours, or you may email her at