Garden Club tour features six Moon gardens
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Despite extreme heat and scant rain, six gardens in Moon are gloriously blooming with annuals, perennials and vegetables.
The people who plant and tend those gardens will open their yards from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for the Moon Township Garden Club tour.
Starting at 9:30 a.m., $10 tickets will be sold at the Moon Municipal Building, 1000 Beaver Grade Road. Maps and directions to the gardens will be given to ticket-buyers, for the tour is self-guided, with everyone driving his car from garden to garden. Proceeds benefit the library, scholarships and other local causes, garden club member Ellen Northy said.
Some gardeners were recruited to the tour by garden club members who spotted eye-catching displays of horticultural prowess. Collectively, gardeners on the tour gardened for many dozens of decades, and they put in 20-50 hours per week from April through October.
As a side benefit, many varieties of butterflies are attracted to large gardens where pesticides and herbicides are seldom or never used, the gardeners point out.
On the tour and in telephone interviews, they're willing to share tips, including how to deal with extreme heat and the ravages of deer, which they say seem to be especially hungry this year, to the detriment of gardens.
Charles and Lisa Story "have been watering around the clock" at 183 Shafer Road.
"Everything looks OK except for the grass, which is horrible. The blooms" on flowering plants "don't last as long as usual because of the heat, and the roses are starting to suffer. Roses do not like extreme heat," Mrs. Story said.
The garden is a family affair, including a lot of help and inspiration from their son, Charles Jr., who owns and operates a landscaping business.
Like most of the garden tour participants, the couple's garden is comprised of different beds of plantings, including a rose garden, herb garden and a huge vegetable garden that has steadily increased to its current size -- 50-by-25 feet.
"I've always loved flowers" and enjoyed growing them, Mrs. Story said, and she added vegetables to the mix in 2007.
The vegetable garden has 80 tomato plants and many kinds of peppers, onions, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, cabbage and black beans. There are also raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, fruit trees and other varieties too numerous to mention.
For Mrs. Story, gardening is also therapy -- for herself and for her clients.
Mrs. Story has a master of science degree in counseling psychology and certification as a horticultural therapist. She is the executive director of her own practice, "Hope Grows," which includes offering "caregiver support" for friends and relatives who care for loved ones. She is a spiritual and bereavement counselor at a local hospice.
"For people who are grieving" after a death, it's helpful "to focus on something that is living," like a garden, Mrs. Story said.
Not too far away at 293 Shafer Road, the areas of grass have steadily decreased as the size of gardens have increased since 1973, when Merrianne and Steve Cacali bought their house.
"My garden evolves," she said. "It's not planned, and it's never done."
She has themes and names for the beds, including the English cottage-style Memory Garden, a Topiary Garden that includes seven deer-shaped lawn ornaments covered with Spanish moss and ivy, the Two Cat garden, Angel Garden and Wild Garden. She even has lavender, white and striped orchids that spend winter in the house, "but they love to come outside in the summer."
Some tomato plants are integrated in beds with flowing annuals and perennials along with vegetables picked for their pretty leaves -- like artichokes and eggplants.
The personal favorites of Mrs. Cacali are her hydrangeas. She grows them in white, blue, purple, magenta and a pink that is called Invincible Spirit, named for breast cancer awareness.
"You can't water hydrangeas in the day. They'd turn brown," Mrs. Cacali said; recently, she's been watering until 11 p.m.
Between the heat and deer, "it has not been a good year for gardens," she said. She grates bars of highly scented Irish Spring soap into her flower beds. The deer seem to dislike the smell, and the plants and flowers don't seem to mind the soap.
Since Mrs. Cacali retired six years ago from her job as a pre-school speech pathologist, she spends "at least 50 hours per week" in the garden.
"They get me back into the house at about 10 p.m," she said.
Is her husband involved in the gardens?
"Steve cuts the grass."
Frank Bufalini has been gardening since the 1970s, with some help from his wife, Gloria, at 509 Arthur Drive. He views it as "therapy and a form of relaxation." He's flattered that "three ladies from the garden club rang the doorbell and asked to see the garden" and include it on the tour.
Mr. Bufalini stepped up his gardening game in 2011, when he retired after five years of teaching instrumental music and 35 years in management jobs at Sears.
His beds include annual and perennials, but he especially likes ornamental grasses and plants that attract butterflies, including butterfly weed and Joe Pye weed, which he says is named "after an Indian medicine man."
Heavy-duty, early morning watering is keeping the garden green and growing, but Mr. Bufalini says he has finally called a company to install a sprinkler system.
Apparently business is brisk in the watering system business this year. He's still waiting for that estimate.
First Published July 5, 2012 12:00 am