June 29 garden tour highlights best in Back Mountain

Last updated: June 21. 2013 10:38PM - 2474 Views
By Christopher J. Hughes

CHRISTOPHER J. HUGHES PHOTOS/FOR THE TIMES LEADERPlants and statues of fish and sailors hang from the boathouse deck at the home of Drs. Paul and Bonnie Mancia in Harveys Lake.
CHRISTOPHER J. HUGHES PHOTOS/FOR THE TIMES LEADERPlants and statues of fish and sailors hang from the boathouse deck at the home of Drs. Paul and Bonnie Mancia in Harveys Lake.
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Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club tour chair Joanne Bittner said club members work one year ahead to identify gardens that will be at their best the following June. Recommendations for new homes to include on the tour come directly from club members or from admiring neighbors.

“There are people who have just absolutely gorgeous gardens that the public doesn't know about,” home chair Claudia Stevens said. “When we see something like this or someone comes to us, we make a contact and tell them we'd love to look at their property and see if they'd like to be a part of our tour.”

If you know of a great garden in the Back Mountain, email info@backmountainbloomers.org.

HARVEYS LAKE — Across the lush, green landscape that sits on the water's edge at Harveys Lake, visitors to the home of Drs. Paul and Bonnie Mancia will be greeted by bears, turtles, alligators and even a handful of pirates.

The arboretum-meets-statue garden that surrounds the Mancia home on Lakeside Drive is one of the highlights of the biennial Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Tour set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

On a recent preview of the tour, club members were quick to praise the array of plants and statues the Mancias have harvested over the years.

“This is an indoor garden, and the doors will be open,” said Dallas resident Claudia Stevens, chairperson for the Mancia home, gesturing to an enclosed front porch. “It's really quite beautiful in there.

“I come out here, and I hate to leave.”

The spacious backyard includes a family of bears surrounding a tree, larger-than-life frogs and birds, and at least one miniature gargoyle. The boathouse is decorated like a would-be pirate's cove of sorts, complete with statues of swashbucklers, seahorses, alligators and more.

“They have collected these, literally, from all over the world,” Stevens said of the statues.

Large shrubs and trees line the outside of the home and front garden, and hanging baskets brighten up the railing on a second-floor deck.

The Mancia home and another property on Grandview Avenue are the first Harveys Lake residences to become part of the event, which began in 2003. Tour chair Joanne Bittner, of Dallas, recommends that garden-lovers start their trip next week in the lakeside community, where a shuttle service will take attendees between the two homes. Four homes in Dallas and the Misericordia University Shakespeare garden, where tickets may be picked up, are the other highlights.

“Each of the six gardens is totally different,” Bittner said, noting that vegetable gardens, flowers, a gazebo, a pond, garden statues and chandeliers and more dot the map.

This year also marks the first time the tour will return to a previously featured home, Bittner added. The Huntsinger home on 42nd Street in Dallas was part of the first tour in 2003.

“It's really interesting to see what's happened in the last 10 years,” she said.

There will be a flurry of activity at the Mancia home, including a butterfly release coordinated by Creekside Gardens of Tunkhannock at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Members of the Wyoming Valley Art League will host an exhibit of their work on an enclosed porch at the Harveys Lake highlight, and Art League members will create en plein air paintings at each stop on the tour.

Additional presenters include Fran Wallo, who is hosting a dog-agility demonstration, members of the Master Gardeners of the Penn State Cooperative Extension, a floral design demo with Renata Reffeck and more.

Tickets are $20 until today and $25 from Sunday through Saturday. They can be purchased at the Back Mountain Library, 96 Huntsville Road, Dallas; Creekside Gardens, 4 Church Drive, Tunkhannock; George Burger and Sons Garden Center, 429 S. Mountain Blvd., Mountain Top; Perennial Point, 1158 N. River St., Plains Township; The Lands at Hillside Farms, 65 Hillside Road, Shavertown; and Wild Birds Unlimited, Dallas Shopping Center, Route 309, Dallas.

In line with its mission statement to increase enthusiasm and knowledge about gardening while conserving natural resources, proceeds from the garden tour will benefit the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association. The non-profit volunteer group has developed the Back Mountain and Black Diamond trails in Luzerne County.

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