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.
Back Mountain Memorial Library, Swetland Homestead & Penn State. 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. Members also worked to rehabilitate the herb garden at the Swetland Homestead in Forty Fort and to plant bulbs at the Penn State University’s Lehman campus arboretum.
Bishop’s Library Garden Restoration & Award. Meanwhile, the club received a request from the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society in Wilkes-Barre to assist in restoring the Bishop’s Library Garden located behind the Society’s office on Franklin Street. In March 1991, Bloomers began a more than one-year project to restore that garden. The project was so successful that we applied and received in 1992 and 1993 awards from the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania (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, and in the year 2000, placed these awards in a time capsule to celebrate the millennium. The Bloomers continued to care for this garden for more than ten years until Society volunteers took it over.
Garden Club Federation. Through the GCFP, the club continued to sponsor grade school students for the “Smokey the Bear” Poster Contest and high school and college students for scholarships. We also sought grant money to landscape Habitat for Humanity homes in the area.
Flower Shows. In 1993, the club collaborated with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Society to host its first Standard Flower Show, an event that featured several hundred horticultural entries, floral designs, and educational exhibits. The show attracted almost 2,000 visitors. The club received many state and national awards for this event. The last show held as a separate event was in 2001.
Rails to Trails, Garden Tours & Rimple Loop Dedication. In 2003, The Anthracite Scenic Trails Association requested that the club consider holding a Home and Garden Tour to benefit the “Rails to Trails” project. The Bloomers overwhelmingly decided to support this endeavor to expedite the completion of the trail throughout the Back Mountain area. Held as a biennial event starting in 2003, this “Tour of Back Mountain Gardens” draws hundreds of visitors who view exceptional gardens and learn gardening techniques from the experts. Also, since 2003, one location features a flower show where unique flower arrangements and plants are displayed. The tour was suspended due to Covid in 2021 and resumed in June 2023, featuring Back Mountain Bloomer gardens. By 2019, the club raised more than $100,000 for the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association through ticket sales and business sponsorships. The trailhead and bench at the Rimple Loop on Lt. Michael Cleary Drive, Dallas, were dedicated to the Back Mountain Bloomer Garden Club in 2019 for their efforts in raising funds for the development and maintenance of the Back Mountain trails. Click here for more information.
Shakespeare Garden. Another 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 year planting annuals and bulbs, trellising vines over arbors, watering and pruning. In keeping with the Shakespeare theme, the 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. Some fourteen years later, this partnership between the Bloomers and Misericordia University provides a unique opportunity to combine the study of horticulture and literature in a proper setting. The Shakespeare Garden is a learning experience for both students and community and a beautiful setting for rest and restoration of spirit. Click here for more information.
Community Outreach. By 2016, the club was no longer a member of the Federation and instead used the $10/member Federation dues to start its own Community Outreach Program. In just a few years, the Back Mountain Bloomers have provided seed money for a number of projects. These include funding Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Camp Orchard Hill to install fencing, plant peach trees, and construct raised beds for a Lehman Township garden that supplies fresh produce and flowers to local food pantries and nursing homes, respectively. And in contrast to food and flowers, the club provided some funds to a local Audubon chapter, an Eagle Scout, and a 5th grade Dallas class that focused their efforts on the environment and fenced in a new pollinator garden at Moon Lake, restored a butterfly garden at Francis Slocum State Park, and embarked on constructing a Butterfly Cafe' on the Dallas School grounds. Other individuals and groups have focused on restoring gardens at churches and historical sites, including the colonial kitchen herb garden at the Zebulon Butler House, the oldest house in Wilkes-Barre. In 2022, the club expanded this outreach program to include outside requests for non-monetary assistance from the club. Click here for more information.
Bloomin’ Bouquets. In Spring of 2021, Bloomers accepted an invitation to plant beds of colorful flowers at a Lehman Township municipal facility and distribute them to local nursing homes in the Back Mountain. The first-year efforts resulted in deliveries of about 160 vases to three nursing homes. Inspired by their results, Bloomers planted daffodils that fall and in 2022, expanded their flower selection and deliveries to six nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the area. The project is aptly named “Bloomin’ Bouquets” and the 2022 effort resulted in the delivery of more than 530 bouquets. Click here for more information.
Bloomin’ Byways. The Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club, in collaboration with local volunteers led by Kevin Harger-Blizzard, Shavertown, started planting spring bulbs, mostly daffodils, in the fall of 2021. In just two seasons, the collaborators planted 8500 bulbs in various locations throughout the Back Mountain. One goal of this beautification project, appropriately named “Bloomin’ Byways,” is to inspire local individuals and businesses to plant daffodils on their properties. Click here for more information.
Back Mountain Bloomers, a Social Club. Legally designated a 501(c)(7) social organization, the Back Mountain Bloomers Garden Club is limited to no more than 80 members. The club has
an educational program at its monthly meetings and is composed of “like-afflicted” energetic members with a passion for gardens and plants. We grow with passion and a view to beauty, life, and the cycles of seasons. We recognize our founding members and others who have contributed extraordinary service by naming them to an “honorary membership” list.
Two biennial events, the Garden Tour and the Fall Speaker’s Luncheon, initiated in 2003 and 2014 respectively, are the mechanisms the club uses to raise funds to support its endeavors to give back to the community. These “give backs” include donations, sponsorships, and/or purchases of supplies on behalf of the Back Mountain Memorial Library, North Branch Land Trust, Penn State Master Gardeners, Dallas Harvest Festival Project for Kids, and our own Bloomin’ Bouquets and Bloomin’ Byways projects. Donations and memorials are accepted to assist the club in giving back to the community.