Sunday tour features five stops; proceeds benefit Shaler North Hills Library

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

Those who have green thumbs or just admire the work of others' green thumbs may stop to smell the roses in area gardens featured on this year's Great Gardens Tour.

The fifth annual event, scheduled for Sunday, June 30, and sponsored by the Shaler Garden Club, will highlight five gardens with features that range from a koi pond to a Colonial Williamsburg replica smokehouse.

“It gives you a chance to see what beautiful gardens we have right in the area,” said Peg Ainey, a garden club member who is organizing the tour.

Some gardens, such as that of Colleen Miller, have undergone transformations over the years. Miller of Shaler has always enjoyed gardening and tended to a shade garden in her backyard until the large tree providing the shade died and had to be removed.

“It gave me the opportunity to do something different,” Miller said.

Miller, whose front yard recently was recognized by the Greybrooke Garden Club as the garden of the month, redesigned the garden to include a fountain feature and stone steps that wind down to the lower part of her lot.

“You really have to go down there to appreciate it,” she said.

Bruce and Johanna Morrison's garden features mature trees, a bronze water fountain and a swimming pool.

Rob and Patty Robinson's garden has been described as being “park-like,” and features a vegetable garden.

The highlight of the Fichter's garden, the only one of the five gardens located in Hampton, is the koi pond and dock in the middle of the yard.

About 10 years ago, Vaughn Fichter, now a retired master carpenter, installed the pond, with the help of family members and then extended the dock to allow Vaughn and his wife, Elyse, to sit there in the evenings.

“Little by little the garden has evolved,” Elyse said. “It's a work in progress.”

Visitors to Jim and Susan DiNucci's garden also will get a history lesson with their tour.

While Susan's garden near the family home features perennials, Jim's garden is based on the landscaping seen in Colonial Williamsburg and even features a replica of Williamsburg's Benjamin Powell smokehouse.

Jim DiNucci said he was inspired by his interest in Colonial Williamsburg and local history. His home, built in 1923, sits on original Depreciation Land property.

DiNucci, who plans to be dressed in a colonial-era outfit and available to answer questions during the tour, said when he was asked to be on the tour he didn't hesitate to participate.

“I love Shaler, and anything to be a part of Shaler excites me,” he said.

All proceeds from the tour will benefit the Shaler North Hills Library.

“The garden club, they are still an amazing partner,” said Sharon McRae, library director.

“They do so much for the library and so much for the community — they're like the Energizer Bunny. … I am so grateful they are a part of the library and a part of the community.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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