HAZLETON — In the 91 years that the Hazleton Area Garden Club has gathered to share tips about and its general love for gardening, members have never hosted a public garden tour.
That changes at 10 a.m. today as the first Gallery of Gardens Tour kicks off with seven inaugural locations including members’ homes, area businesses and a community garden.
Hazleton resident Helene Hvizda, one of the event’s three co-chairs, said the group has hosted private tours for members in the past.
“I wanted to get the public to be aware that you can garden in a small space. We wanted to let people know that there are some gorgeous gardens in Hazleton,” Hvizda said of the change to a public tour.
Hvizda should know. Hers is one of the seven showcased today, and she has filled her yard with both flowers and vegetables. She said her lilies “were fantastic this year” and her vegetables are all growing well.
Her edible efforts fill a large portion of her yard. Treats from the garden include onions, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant and two new additions this year — tomatillos and pumpkins. Part of her success, she said, can be attributed to the early planting she does indoors during winter.
She’s used almost every space she can, from planting directly in the ground to lining her patio with all sorts of hanging baskets.
“I’ve been gardening since I was little. My father always had a garden,” Hvizda said. “This is the house I was born in, and we always had a garden here.”
The variety included in Hvizda’s display is just a small part of the overall array included in today’s tour.
“There’s something for everyone — annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables. At the community garden, they even have chickens,” said Lauren Cornelius of Nescopeck, another co-chair.
The tour will showcase how well gardeners have used their spaces. One doesn’t need an acre of land to reap the benefits of the harvest, Hvizda said.
“You drive around Hazleton, and there are some spectacular gardens,” Hvizda said. “You put so much time and effort and money into it, show it off.”
Along with the showcased gardens, members of the Penn State Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners will be present at various locations to provide information on insects, pesticides and more to those attending.
The Hazleton Area Garden Club is a member of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania and National Garden Clubs, Central Atlantic Region. Annual service projects include planting and restoration efforts at Eckley Miners Village and participation in the Hazleton Art League’s “Art in Bloom” event.
Monthly meetings take place at Most Precious Blood Church, 131 E. Fourth St., Hazleton, at 5:30 p.m. on the second Thursday. Men and women considering membership in the club are welcome to come as guests. Chris Gresh is the current president, and there are approximately 75 active members.
Co-chairs, including Laura Hackney of White Haven, agree that today’s tour will become a recurring event. Plans are to have it every other year, opposite the club’s biennial garden show. The club double-stacked its events this year with the recent garden show but plans to balance the calendar soon.
If you don’t have tickets, they can be purchased for $10 today at Visintainer Nursery, 13 W. Foothills Road, Drums. The nursery also is part of the tour.