Homeowner Marge Smith (left) and Johnstown Symphony Auxiliary member Carol Schrum (center) and Joan Moss admire Daylilies at Smith's Westmont home. Smith's garden is one of three gardens showcased in the auxiliary's 2006 Graden Tour. Photo by John Rucosky/ The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, PA.

Three area gardens will be showcased July 22 in the Johnstown Symphony Auxiliary’s 2006 Garden Tour.

The garden owners are Marge and Gordon Smith, Carol and Steve Purich and Connie and Dick Mayer.

Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for the tour. They will be especially needed for the Mayers’ 14-acre property.

“There are 16 ponds with water lilies and lotus,” Dick Mayer said. “There are catfish, bluegill, bass and koi in the ponds.”

Mayer said the ponds originally were rice paddies where he tried to grow wild rice until it became too difficult. He got the idea after visiting Bali and seeing the rice paddies there.

The Mayers plant for wildlife.

Butterfly bushes and plants to attract birds bloom behind the rosebushes off their side porch.

Other wildlife attracted to the Mayers’ property includes osprey, heron, bear and a bald eagle.

“I hope the eagle stops by this year,” Mayer said.

He and his wife work together on their extensive gardens.

Mayer takes care of the vegetable garden, while his wife takes care of the formal English garden and other flower gardens.

The Mayers also grow various ornamental grasses.

“It’s a family passion with the Mayers,” said Joan Moss, who is co-chairwoman of the event with Carol Schrum.

The Puriches’ 10-acre garden also is extensive. A lot of it is rock formations and ferns.

A sign in the chalet the Puriches built as a retreat states, “Live like heaven is on earth.”

“It makes you feel good,” Steve Purich said. “You have to see it to appreciate it. The whole picture blends together. We like to have friends visit. It’s my hideaway in the woods.”

The chalet is used as a gathering space and is a conglomeration of objects the Puriches have collected, including carved pillars from Afghanistan.

“Everything has a story,” Moss said.

“Their garden isn’t formal,” Moss said. “Steve told me that no matter where he sat, he wanted a nice view.”

In the Smiths’ more traditional garden, Gordon Smith is the gardener.

“He buys the plants he loves and makes it comfortable, inviting and relaxing,” Moss said.

The Smiths’ garden includes daylilies, roses, a stepping-stone path and birdhouses.

The tour will begin at 10 a.m. July 22 at Westmont Church of the Brethren, 2301 Sunshine Ave. Shuttle buses will carry participants to each of the homes on the tour.

The last bus will leave at noon.

“There will be volunteer hostesses from the symphony auxiliary at each garden who know the names of all the flowers,” Moss said. “People mostly like to wander and enjoy themselves.

“This is something the auxiliary likes to do.”

After the tour, buses will return to the church where a light lunch will be served and garden-themed door prizes will be awarded.

“There also will be a small raffle with Longaberger baskets,” Moss said.

Tickets are $25 and may be purchased by calling the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra office at 535-6738, Community Arts Center of Cambria County at 255-6515 or auxiliary members at 266-8460 or 255-1456.

Proceeds from the garden tour will benefit the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.

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