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Westmoreland yards shine in 'Joy of Gardening' tour

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Sunday, June 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Seven of Westmoreland County's most beautiful gardens were featured June 29 in “The Joy of Gardening,” a tour hosted by Greensburg Garden Center.

In nine years, Bill and Amie Gillingham have transformed the back and side yards of their Pennsylvania Avenue home in Greensburg into a lush and productive paradise. Tomatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, herbs, onions, corn and seven kinds of peppers grow in raised beds next to strawberry and blueberry plants. A cherry tree supplies the Chocolate Shoppe and Sun Dawg Cafe with fruit for candies and salads. Amie can pick black raspberries from her back porch, and a “fairy garden,” complete with a solar-powered house teaches the couple's children, Abbey, 9, and Liam, 7, to appreciate gardening.

Maurice and Sybil Williamson built their single-level home on Mt. Thor Road in Hempfield in 1974. Their sloped backyard is ideal for a low-maintenance garden of daylilies, hostas and ferns that accents a magnificent view of the woods. Rhododendron and Christmas rose adorn the house, which is shaded by giant maple, oak and ash trees. A dawn redwood, or Metasequoia, thrives in the front yard.

Other homes on the tour were those of Dick Errett on Upper Lane and Bob and Janet Bentz on Tillbrook Road, both in Hempfield; Orv and Bonnie McConnell on Barnes Lake Road and Jeff and Pat Bates on George Street, both in North Huntingdon; and Rick and Sharon Schwirian in Sewickley.

Seen: Lora Marra, Linda Showman, Fran Garrett, Elena Marra and Doris andTom Schoffstall, whose Lawrenceville home was included in a garden tour last week, when they were invited to see the Greensburg Garden Center tour.

— Dawn Law

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