Heighten Your Senses
Appreciate and Consider a Garden
Photography by Jadrian Klinger
As temperatures cool and Indian summer slips into fall, there’s no better time to view and savor the intoxicating color, texture or scent of a garden.
In the Lehigh Valley, there’s a plethora of public and community grounds to visit. Travel back in time, relax, read a book or take in the last of summer’s rays amidst the Miller’s House Garden in Bethlehem or the Fragrance Garden located within the Allentown Rose Garden.
These small but mighty horticultural destinations are perfect for a quick, impromptu outing with friends or solo.
Tended solely by volunteers of the Bethlehem Garden Club since 1989, the award-winning Miller’s House Garden, located on Old York Road in the Historic Bethlehem Industrial Quarter, is an 1870 Victorian-inspired design featuring fragrant lilies, assorted roses, pink and white peonies, phlox, hydrangea, plus a host of herbs and heirloom vegetables, including tomatoes, potatoes, red beets, butternut squash and beans.
To learn more about the plantings and the design of the Miller House Garden, don’t forget to take one of the maps provided on site, says Sharon Donchez, Miller House Garden chairwoman, who heads up the Bethlehem Garden Club volunteer efforts at the garden. Only a short walk or drive from the Miller’s House Garden are other Bethlehem Garden Club projects, including Heckwelder Garden and The Garden of Serenity, an authentic Japanese Tea House garden on the western side of the Bethlehem Public Library.
Meanwhile, partake in the glorious natural landscape of the Allentown Rose Garden. Glorious annuals, perennials, fountains, arbors and sculptures are featured prominently, but don’t miss the centrally located Fragrance Garden, cared for and maintained by loyal Allentown Garden Club members. Here, explore the variety of blooms, bike or walk the pathways and enjoy the row after row of stunning splendid flora, whether you prefer one perfect rose or the finery of landscape design.
May through late fall, this aromatic retreat offers various heady scents, from peonies in the spring, to Casablanca lilies during the heat of the summer. By fall, the mums and asters are splendid. Three seasons out of four, herbs provide a steady savory scent. Regina Shaw, Fragrance Garden chairwoman and member of the Allentown Garden Club, heads the volunteers who to tend, mulch, plant, weed and help winter the plot in late fall.
Cultivating the love of gardening across the Lehigh Valley for more than 150 years combined, both the Allentown and Bethlehem clubs provide a busy hive of resources for the casual beginner and the seasoned horticulturist.
For more information about the Allentown Garden Club and how to become a member, visit allentowngardenclub.com. For more information about becoming a member and the many programs of the Bethlehem Garden Club, visit bethlehemgardenclub.org.
Advice, Tips and Philosophies from Local Garden Enthusiasts
• ”View your garden with a fresh set of eyes each and every year,” says Sharon Donchez, Miller House Garden chairwoman, Bethlehem Garden Club.
• Change up old beds, plant and consider something new. For instance, this year, one of the most spectacular new performers at the Miller House Garden, observes Donchez, was a hyacinth bean plant, with petite purple flowers and gregarious climbing ability. The hyacinth became the hallmark of the garden’s arbor where previously roses had proven to be poor climbers.
• Cultivate an expansive herb garden replete with 40 different herbs by starting small, says Becky Short, president of the Allentown Garden Club. “Use containers if you need to at first.”
• Know your pollinators, and plant them to attract bees and pollinators, adds Short, who recommends powerful pollinators, like Joe Pye Weed.
• Plant different variations of basil, mint and parsley, and be sure to keep mint separate as it is a very invasive plant, reminds Short.
• Research and plant the proper shrubs and evergreens so your winter landscape has some color and structure during the cold weather months, says Shaw.
• Choose annuals for a pop of color, and be sure to plant where each variety prefers, like marguerite daisies or zinnias can stand up to the sun.
• Purchase your plants at small local nurseries to ensure the plants are native to our region.
• Spring ahead early with fragrant blooms that like an early, cool start in the spring, such as hardy annuals like bells of Ireland, snapdragons, sweet peas and sweet williams.
• Gardening, says Short, is a metaphor for life, as she quotes celeb gardener and blogger, Margaret Roach, “You name it, the garden is a theatre for every major life lesson.” Sums, Short, from her garden every morning, “The smell of my herbs, the visual beauty and the feel of the textures can be very therapeutic. Gardening is a lot less expensive than therapy, and you get tomatoes.”
The chef at The Twisted Olive in Bethlehem doesn’t just believe in farm-to- table ingredients – Chef Steve Kershner plants, grows and harvests his own organic garden in Williams Township.
“We are big believers in fresh ingredients for cooking, and what better way than to grow our own organic produce,” says Kershner, whose ever- expanding garden is now about the size of an NBA basketball court.
Kershner’s own harvest plays a key role in menu items during the spring, summer and fall months. The chef and staff at The Twisted Olive muddles herbs for unique cocktails and spins delicate lettuces and veggies into delightful hyper-local menu selections, signature appetizers, soups, entrées, condiments and desserts.
Just one signature dish straight from Kershner’s garden is the butternut squash soup with honey sage drizzle and butternut wonton. The soup earned first place at the Harvest Fest Soup Trail, sponsored by the Downtown Bethlehem Association last fall.
In the heat of the summer, Kershner credits the success of his harvest with the expertise of people like Tim Delaney of Full Circle Veggies, which enables the chef the time to tend to both the land and the demands of running a restaurant.
Last year, The Twisted Olive established its own composting plan. “We implement our own organic composting to reduce food waste and to further enhance the soil,” continues Kershner.
The Twisted Olive is located at 51 W. Broad St. in Bethlehem. For more information, visit twistedolivebethlehem.com or call (610) 419-0241.