Greensburg Garden Center offers ‘inspirational’ garden tour |
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Shirley McMarlin

Going on a garden tour is a little bit like picking from Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.

Or, more accurately, what you’ll see when you pull up at a featured home.

That’s part of the fun, says Mary Ann Artman, chairwoman of the Greensburg Garden Center’s biannual garden tour, “Garden Inspiration,” coming up on June 15.

“It’s always a surprise,” she says. “You look at the front of a house and you think, ‘Oh, there’s nothing there.’ Then you go around the back and it’s just wonderful.”

The first suggested stop on the seven-garden tour is the Hempfield home of Chris and Dave Loughran. The well-manicured, shaded front yard belies the lush, green paradise that awaits behind the backyard fence.

Backyard retreat

Chris Loughran says she worried when agreeing to show her garden that visitors would be disappointed by the lack of colorful flowers, but the Loughrans have created a peaceful, backyard retreat with its own unique charms.

Shade from mature trees, including a towering oak encircled by a large wooden deck, insures that the yard is cool even on the hottest summer days. Stone walkways bordered by hostas and other perennials lead from the deck to Chris’s garden shed, Dave’s workshop and one sunny corner containing a vegetable plot. Bird baths and feeders, benches, statuary and Adirondack furniture built by Dave and his son add visual interest.

Also featured on the tour

• A spring-fed water garden with natural waterfall and koi pond at the Unity home of Dan and Kate Krinock. A stone walkway leads under a trellis draped with wisteria and trumpet vine to a butterfly garden planted with perennials. The property also contains sunburst locust, columnar beech and magnolia trees.

• Willow House Cottage, Connie Baker’s stone house in Unity. The flower gardens are a riot of sizes, shapes and color that reveal hidden treasures. The large property also sports a “she shed,” private patio and rambling pathways.

• Lougene Whiteman home, Latrobe. The landscaping has gone through several evolutions over the years and features a cutting garden, rose garden, shade garden and secret garden. Other points of interest are the koi pond and ‘Rising Sun’ and ‘Appalachian Red’ redbud trees. Cookies and lemonade will be served here.

• Saint Vincent Basilica welcome garden, Unity. Father Fred Byrne is continually adding to the garden he started six years ago. Visitors will find ferns, hostas, azaleas, variegated red twig dogwood, ‘Ruby Slippers’ oak leaf hydrangeas and more. The center of the garden features a fountain that incorporates the basilica’s original baptismal font.

• Home of Marcia and Dave Salandro, Unity. Dave constructed the garden’s stone walls to shelter hostas, sedum, peonies, daylilies, catmint, colorful annuals and containers. Some plants are allowed to self-seed, making for an ever-changing landscape.

• Unity home of Jim Mickinak, sometimes known as the “Flower Child.” The antique memorabilia-filled garden showcases a pond and stream that include both still and rushing waters. A circular stone fountain is a replica of the antique landmark at Idlewild Park.

As a bonus, visitors may tour Mickinak’s museum of Rolling Rock memorabilia.

Get your tickets

Tour hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine.

Tickets for the self-driving tour are $18 in advance. They also can be purchased for $20 on tour day, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Greensburg Garden Center, 951 Old Salem Road.

Details: 724-837-0245 or

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