Tour gives gardeners a chance to display their work
Suzanne Beck’s garden in Dallas sprawls across her property, a host of blooms, shoots and vines testifying to the yearly work that starts in her small greenhouse when the air is still cold.
“I start coming out here in February each year when it’s snowing and cold out. I spend hours out here starting my seeds,” she said. “It’s just really relaxing…I’m in here, nice and toasty with my plants, and then I can see them start very small and grow.”
Gardening can be a solitary pursuit, but this weekend the gardeners of the Back Mountain Area, like Beck, will have a chance to show off their work on the Back Mountain Bloomers 2023 Tour of the Back Mountain Gardens.
As Beck prepared for her first time as one of the featured gardens on the tour, the greenhouse was empty - everything that she started in here is now flourishing outside.
Of course, this year has not been without its challenges - she had seedlings in the greenhouse still when temperatures hit 90 degrees this April, then rushed to cover budding plants during a freeze in May.
“And then the drought, we were out there watering all the time,” she said. “So yeah, it’s been a lot of work.”
Saturday, June 24 will be the 10th biannual tour. Tour manager Lisa Lindquist says this year, all five gardens on the tour are owned by members of the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club like Beck, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“In years past we would solicit through the public, literally by driving by a really nice garden and knocking on the door and introducing ourselves,” she said.
That method has led to memorable finds.
“One time we were driving…when we saw really nice great garden,” she said. “We stopped, we knocked on the door, and the woman said, ‘Me? My garden to be on the Bloomers garden tour?’ And she was aghast and it turned out to be the hit of that next year’s garden tour.”
The tour starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Lindquist says not only will they stop at the five private gardens, they’ll also visit a pollinator garden maintained by the Luzerne County Master Gardeners and a flower show.
“Every garden to me is interesting… I want to see what everyone else does,” she said. “I almost cause accidents, you know, rubbernecking, looking at gardens. I shouldn’t do that.”
Beck’s garden features bright marigolds and daisies, deep purple delphinium, and in a raised bed like her other vegetables, her favorite thing to grow - garlic.
“I haven’t bought garlic in years because I just use the same garlic to reseed,” she said. “It’s just really fascinating to me to regrow the same garlic out of the garlic I’ve been growing for years.”
In Lindquist’s experience, most gardeners do have a few favorites. For her part, she admits to being a “perennial snob.”
“My favorite perennials are hardy geraniums and clematis, and I collect a lot of them,” she said. “It’s a passion…I have a friend who is nuts over hosta.”
Lindquist says tickets for the tour tend to sell out, and people come from well outside Northeastern Pennsylvania to see the gardens.
Tickets are available until the day of the tour - on Friday, June 23, they are available at the Dallas Township Municipal Building from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Then on Saturday, they're available for $25 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. The tour runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
When the crowd comes, Beck said she and her garden will be ready.
“I’m really excited to see what happens,” she said.