The Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club began as an idea two gardeners shared about forming an “herb group but also to include horticulture in general”. In October, 1988, these two enterprising women inspired six of their flower-gardening friends to join in founding a garden club, holding the first meeting at one of their homes. The next year the first slate of officers was elected and the general membership grew to fifteen members. The group voted to become a federated garden club and attained status on May 4, 1989. At this time the group became known as The Back Mountain Bloomers, and on October 28, 1989, a set of by-laws was voted and adopted.
Word of this new club spread quickly in the Dallas and Wilkes-Barre areas. Members were often approached by various institutions and societies to undertake garden related projects on their behalf. As a federated garden club, the Bloomers were eager to share their love of gardening with the community and to promote the objectives and goals of National Garden Clubs, Inc. Some of these goals are: To promote civic beauty; encourage improvement of roadsides and parks; protect and preserve natural resources; study and advance the arts of gardening, horticulture, floral design, landscape design and environmental sciences; and to encourage and assist in establishing and maintaining botanical gardens and horticultural centers for the enjoyment and education of the public. Our involvement within the community began in March, 1990, with a “Beautification Project of the Back Mountain Memorial Library” in Dallas by planning a garden area and planting perennials. We also worked to rehabilitate the herb garden at the Swetland Homestead in Forty Fort. We were asked to help renovate the arboretum at the Penn State University Lehman campus where we decided to plant $100.00 worth of bulbs in the fall as the soil was “too rocky and rooty” for us to work.
All the while, the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society in Wilkes-Barre was awaiting our reply to their request for us to restore the Bishop’s Library Garden located behind their office on Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. This would be a very large undertaking for the Bloomers and would require much preparation, research, and funding to overhaul and bring back this authentic Victorian Garden to its former beauty. In March, 1991, we began the garden’s restoration which took us well over a year to complete. To celebrate the garden’s rebirth, the Historical Society held “An Old Fashioned Garden Party” in August, 1991. One half of the profit generated was given to the Bloomers for purchase of plant material that was popular and grown in Victorian times. This garden restoration project was so successful that we applied and received in 1992 and 1993 these awards from the GCFP: “Special Recognition State Award for The Beautification of a Community Area”; “Civic Development and Improvement”, a first place blue ribbon; and the “Preservation of Beauty Award” for the restoration of a Victorian garden. The Historical Society also presented the Bloomers with a “Special Commendation” in April, 1992. These awards were placed in a time capsule by the Historical Society in the year 2000 to celebrate the millennium. We continued to care for this garden for more than ten years after which society volunteers took over from us. They continue the tradition of an annual garden party and decorated hat contest.
In 1993 we began planning our first Standard Flower Show, a collaboration of members of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Society and the Back Mountain Bloomers. This show, held at the Montage Mountain Ski Resort and Lodge in May 1993, attracted almost 2000 visitors who viewed several hundred horticultural entries, floral designs and educational exhibits.
The Flower Show became an annual event, continuing to grow in the number of exhibits, Exhibitors, and visitors. In 1996, the Flower Show was moved to the 109th Field Artillery Armory in Kingston where it was staged for the next five years. The last show was held in April 2001. Over the years the Back Mountain Bloomer Garden Club won many state and national awards for its flower shows, show schedules, exhibits, and innovative staging.
In 2003 The Anthracite Scenic Trails Association requested that our club consider holding a Home and Garden Tour to benefit the “Rails to Trails” project. The Bloomers overwhelmingly decided to support this endeavor in order to expedite the completion of the trail throughout the Back Mountain area. This “Tour of Back Mountain Gardens” draws hundreds of visitors every other year to the Dallas area who can view exceptional gardens and learn gardening techniques from the experts.
Our latest project commenced in the fall of 2009 when we were asked to help maintain the newly hardscaped and planted “Shakespeare Garden” at Misericordia University. The Bloomers agreed to care for this garden as a community project and spent the last year planting annuals and bulbs, trellising vines over arbors, watering and pruning. In keeping with the Shakespeare theme, the Garden Club used plant materials referenced in Shakespeare’s plays. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society investigated and celebrated community landscapes and gardens in the tri-state area to acknowledge the efforts of those who keep them beautiful. Among the sites chosen was the Sister Regina Kelly Memorial Garden at Misericordia University in Dallas PA. The award, given to the Back Mountain Bloomers, is based on plant variety, design, use of space and horticultural practices.
The Garden Club now has 60 active members. Some of our founding members are no longer with us, some have moved away, but their names remain with us on the honorary membership list. When not touring or working in gardens we meet on the third Thursday of every month.
Members of the Back Mountain Bloomers