Marty and Herb Summerfield’s garden contains many delights, but the favorite is one that visitors can’t seem to get enough of.
The garden which rambles down from their house to a winding hillside road -- which I use every day -- features several waterfalls, statuary of children reading books as they perch in and near ponds, and paths composed of bark and large rocks which have been embedded into the ground to make them appear as if they were always there.
The teleidoscope at the Summerfield garden
The show stopper and one that has been enjoyed by all of those who have taken one of the three public tours at the couple’s garden is a teleidoscope (and no, that’s not a typo.) A teleidoscope is a kind of kaleidoscope, but instead of being a tube made of mirrors and containing loose colored beads, pebbles or other objects like its more widely-known cousin, a teleidoscope has a lens and an open view. This allows the viewer to see kaleidoscopic patterns created from objects outside the instrument, rather than from items installed as part of it.
On a recent visit to the garden, I was able to look through the lens of this tantalizing garden instrument while spinning a pot of flowers beneath it, thus creating my own kaleidoscopic vision. Pretty neat.
The Summerfields, who live in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, hired Lisowski Tree Service and Landscaping in 2000 to install hundreds of boulders in their garden as steps, walkways and waterfalls, all of which look as if they were taken from a natural woodland setting. The landscapers had to cut a temporary access drive up through the backyard from the main road so that they could haul the boulders in. The work was time-consuming, taking several months, and was completed in the spring of 2001 because everyone involved int the project wanted the rocks to fit naturally into their surroundings.
In winter, Marty can turn the water off to the waterfalls, but continues to use the aerator for the ponds where multi-colored koi swim year-round.
A visit to the garden leaves one feeling peaceful and tranquil, a feeling that’s hard to envision when driving the winding, narrow road behind it, as I do. It’s hard to take leave of such a beautiful place, and that’s not only true for human visitors. Butterflies, which were plentiful on the bushes in the garden as we walked through, didn’t fly away even when approached up close by a writer with a digital camera (The happy result is the photo below.).
A butterfly lingers in the garden
Marty and Herb have lived in their home on its one-acre plot since 1975, and spend a lot of time working in their garden, but don’t keep track of the hours. Weeds – the bane of even the non-gardeners among us – are a constant problem, she admits, and it’s hard for her not to pull out a few handfuls every time she ventures down one of the garden’s paths.
Taylor and Sydney, the Summerfield’s granddaughters, love to come for visits to the garden. At ages 8 and 2, the girls are about the same size as the children’s statuary that graces it. Marty liked the theme of young children at play in her garden, lingering with their books and toys as they spend time there. Who can blame them?
By Teresa K. Flatley
More photos of the Summerfield Garden:
One of the waterfalls in the Summerfield garden
"Children" playing in the pond.
Small boy statue in garden