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Susquehanna Life

Garden Shed: 8 Must-See Gardens

By Elizabeth Laura

There’s no better way to emerge from a long, dreary winter than to place yourself outdoors on a beautiful spring day, in the midst of colorful plant and greening tree life. We’ve collected an assortment of sites to visit, throughout Central PA and beyond, whose beauty and serenity beckon. Take the time to explore all of them.

8 Must-See Gardens

Shippensburg Peace Garden, Shippensburg Memorial Park - This serene garden with benches, arbors and a peace pole was added next to Shippensburg’s Memorial Park in the early 1990s, conceived by the late local peace advocate Pauline (Polly) Underwood. The garden was developed by Shippensburg gardener/designer Jill Hudock, who also designed the current peace pole that incorporates a dove and the phrase, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” the sentiment universal to all peace poles. The garden is filled with a mix of flowering trees, flowering shrubs, vines and shade perennials that bloom in succession throughout the growing season. It won a 2011 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society award for Outstanding Public Planting.

Wisteria sinensis 'Amethyst' drapes from the Gravel Garden arbor
Image by Lisa Roper, courtesy of Chanticleer

Chanticleer Garden, Wayne - Chanticleer has been called the most romantic, imaginative and exciting public garden in America. The garden is a study of textures and forms, where foliage eclipses flowers, gardeners lead the design and even the drinking fountains are sculptural. It is a garden of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home. The garden has evolved since the death of the owner in 1990. As the home of the Rosengartens, Chanticleer was beautiful and green with impressive trees and lawns. Most of the floral and garden development has occurred since 1990, designed by Chanticleer staff and consultants.

Creekside Gardens, Tunkhannock - When owners Kevin and Sherri Kukuchka first met as horticulture students in 1994, the site which is now Creekside Gardens was a cornfield. Kevin’s dream was to create a destination, and an appreciation of plants and nature has always been at the heart of Creekside. In the beginning, nursery stock was lined up in the field, until a retail greenhouse was erected. Over the past 20 years, many additions have been made, the most recent of which are a Butterfly House (2010) and gift shop (2011). The site hosts the Tunkhannock Farmers Market in the summer. These events and workshops have helped make the gardens a year-round destination.

Hope Hill Lavender Farm, Pottsville - Hope Hill Lavender Farm is owned by Wendy and Troy, who purchased what was an established Christmas tree farm in 2004 to create a home for themselves and two rescue horses. In 2010, they wanted to put their own stamp on the farm. Wendy’s love of gardening and lavender, combined with Troy’s passion for organic, sustainable farming, led to the idea to focus on lavender. The farm and lavender fields, a working farm, are open to the public during normal business hours only.

Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living, Brookville - Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing public awareness of conservation, ecological ideas and healthful sustainable living.  Wander through lush gardens of organic vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Explore 30 acres of nature trails, worm composting system, wind/solar energy system, yurt, earthen oven, straw bale house and benches. Items for sale include Quiet Creek herbal teas, soaps, salves and mushrooms.  Also available are whole foods, local art, essential oils and information to enhance healthy living. The site is open to schools, churches, organizations and groups of families and friends for education-based experiences. A wide variety of classes and intensive seminars are offered for students of all ages and levels. 

Marywood University Arboretum, Scranton - Explore the Arboretum at Marywood University with the assistance of the self-guided, all-season walking tour map, available at The map points out the location and type of vegetation in each area and helps with tree identification. Events at the arboretum include educational activities, community workshops and resource materials. Special tours and events for elementary and secondary school field projects are available. Schedule a tour by calling (570)-961-4788 or emailing

Day Trips

Bucks Beautiful’s Kitchen & Garden Tour
June 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Rain or Shine
In the late 1980s, inspired by a tour through Europe, Robert and Joyce Byers set out to beautify Bucks County’s residential communities and rolling landscapes with lush public gardens.  The Byers wanted their community to emulate European town centers that feature beautiful gardens that foster community pride and create a sense of place. In 1990, Jack and Carol McCaughan joined the Byers in founding Bucks Beautiful, a 501c3 nonprofit community organization. The annual Kitchen & Garden tour is one of several Bucks Beautiful events that takes place throughout the year.  

The Delaware Botanic Gardens - Delaware opened America’s newest botanic garden last September. This 37-acre coastal garden, near Dagsboro, Del., features six diverse garden environments. The gardens include 12-acres of woodlands with 1,000 feet of Pepper Creek tidal shoreline and opportunities to reconnect with nature and coastal wildlife. Paths and trails are all ADA compatible. The feature garden is the 2-acre Piet Oudolf Meadow Garden, with 70,000 hand-planted perennials (85 percent are native). (Piet Oudolf is a world-famous Dutch plant horticulturist who designed the Highline Garden in New York City and Lurie Garden in Chicago.) The garden is designed in an infinity shape with winding trails and a palette of plants providing seasonal color and interest year-round.

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