Chambersburg's autumn stroll a hit with onlookers

September 30, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - To simply pass by the front of Larry and Shirley DiMarco's Chambersburg home doesn't reveal the oasis that is their back yard.

The couple's 5-year-old treasure features two gurgling waterfalls, an upper pond filled with goldfish as big as an adult's forearm, and a lower pond stocked with Japanese koi fish.

The DiMarcos opened their Limekiln Road back yard to about 200 people Sunday afternoon as part of the Franklin County Master Gardeners' first Autumn Stroll.


"This is the inaugural attempt. Everyone likes to go and look at someone else's garden and try and get ideas," said Bob Kessler of the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office, which sponsors the Master Gardeners program.

"Not everyone is going to let you just walk in their back yard," he said.

But Sunday, the DiMarcos and a half-dozen other Franklin County gardeners welcomed the crowds throughout the afternoon and patiently answered questions about upkeep and how their gardens survived this year's drought.

Bob and Betty McConkey of Quincy, Pa., participate in Adams County's Master Gardeners program, and carefully scrutinized the gardens at each stop Sunday.

"It's fantastic," Bob McConkey said while admiring the DiMarcos' water garden, his fifth stop of the day.

"Each garden is different, and I get an idea from each individual stop," Betty McConkey said.

She said she admired window boxes at one home and the ornamental grasses at another, two things she hopes to experiment with in the future.

Shirley DiMarco had no problem with people traipsing through her back yard.

"You have to share something like this. We love it," she said.

She said most people wanted to know if the peaceful waterfalls ran year-round and how much maintenance they require.

DiMarco said the 11,000-gallon water garden, punctuated by cattails, water lilies and grasses, is thriving on its own with relatively little maintenance, some of which is handled by Jeff Shuff of Aqua Designs.

"It is so tranquil," she said.

At the other end of the spectrum were the Master Gardeners' Demonstration and Community Service Gardens on Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg, where a few ripened tomatoes clung to the vines as the growing season comes to an end.

The three vegetable plots are maintained by migrant families, mental health consumers and juvenile probation clients.

"We oversee, and they do the work," said Vicki Hickman, one of the Master Gardeners manning the community service gardens, which also feature an herb garden.

She said she was pleased with the turnout Sunday, and was handing out literature on growing perennials and maintaining a garden in the drought to the people who passed through.

Other gardens on the tour featured French country styles, roses and a variety of perennials. The gardens were a range of sizes, including a seven-acre English landscape in Fayetteville, Pa.

The Autumn Stroll was a fund-raiser for the Master Gardeners, and participants paid $5 for entry to all eight gardens.

The Herald-Mail Articles