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Surprises await participants on Oakmont Garden Club tour

| Sunday, June 22, 2014, 6:11 p.m.
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One of the gardens being featured on the Oakmont Garden Tour.

Gardens are a pleasure for more than the senses. They are a treat for the soul, as well, according to Oakmont Garden Club member Kaye Forbes.

“A lot of people maybe think gardens and flowers are just eye candy. But I think there's a real nurturing aspect to spending time in gardens among the plants and flowers,” she says. “I really think it's a kind of spiritual lift. You can't be in a bad mood when you're in lovely outdoor spaces with plants.”

On June 29, for the garden club's tour, 10 Oakmont homeowners will open their doors to anyone whose soul needs a little lift. The tour is part of Oakmont's 125th anniversary celebration. The borough has invited its organizations and businesses to honor the milestone with a variety of events.

“It's really nice that all of the organizations in town are getting involved to make (the anniversary) more of an ongoing event over the summer with different things to look forward to instead of a one-day event,” Forbes says. “It's been a really nice experience that everyone in town's getting involved.”

For the garden club, getting involved means hosting a self-guided garden tour that's open to the public. The tour runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of the tour at Oakmont's clock tower and the train station on Allegheny Avenue. There will be bottles of water and flower-shape cookies at some of the homes.

“People will see a variety of gardens,” Christine Little, garden club member and tour committee chair, says. “There's something unique about each of the gardens we've selected.”

Among those are a 25-year-old rose garden, a sunken water garden and a serene Asian garden overlooking the Allegheny River.

Forbes is one of the gardeners whose horticultural handiwork will be on display.

“It's a win-win,” she says of the event. “You get to enjoy the garden and so do the people who come to visit.”

Hers, she says, is not a traditional garden: “I like to have fun surprises in my garden. For instance, I have some shoes I've planted in it. It's just ... something you wouldn't expect.”

What guests can expect is a tour to be taken by foot and by vehicle through the picturesque borough with stops at not only homes, but also Dark Hollow Woods, the Arboretum Trail along the railroad tracks and Riverview Park.

“If you've never been here, just to see the community, it's a beautiful place to visit,” says Jean Wimer, garden club president. “We've done so much work to beautify the town. We've planted trees, flowers and hanging baskets. It's just a lovely community.”

And the gardens themselves, according to Wimer, are sure to delight.

“We have some that are more formal. Some that are more fun,” she says. “I think the variety will be fun, and there's the surprise of the unexpected. You won't see the garden until you go around back and, all of a sudden, there are these beautiful flowers.”

And it's not only the flowers that will be on display.

“We have wonderful dining areas and living areas featured,” Little says. “I think the outdoors have really become a second living room. This is a chance to see behind the scenes of really unique living spaces and gardens.”

Little has some advice for anyone coming out to the tour, which, according to organizers, is the first of its kind in 25 years.

“I would encourage people to just travel and enjoy. Just take it all in,” she says. “Think of it as an enjoyable afternoon just being with nature.”

Julie E. Martin is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

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