Friend’s fine flowers earn Garden of the Month honors

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Despite the damage caused to area gardens by the many severe storms experienced this summer, Shawnee Friend's garden on Freas Lane continues to shine and was chosen as the August “Garden of the Month" by the Punxsutawney Garden Club this past week.

"I've been planting flowers pretty much since we moved in here 29 years ago," Friend said, adding that her home was built by former owners Dan and Diane Anderson.

"This property was all woods when we moved in; there was no lawn to speak of," she said.

Friend said the big pine trees and rhododendrons that line the drive as you approach her home high on the hill were planted by Joe Campagnola and were only a foot tall.

"They've grown quite a bit since then," she said.

Friend said she has 16 acres which extend all the way up to the back of the First Church of God in Punxsutawney on Skyview Drive.

"I mow 13 acres out of 16 acres every week, which is something I enjoy doing; it relaxes me," Friend said.

"One of the perennial flowers I truly enjoy is the lavender-colored Russian sage which lines the walkway up to the swimming pool," she said.

Friend said that, originally, Chad Young had planted most of the plants on the property.

"About 60 percent of the existing plants and flowers have died out, and I replaced them over the years," Friend said, adding that the sun hits her gardens all day long so she can only plant flowers that can take that much exposure to the sunlight.

"There are a lot of plants that are hidden behind the ones that are currently in full bloom," she said. "These other plants show in the springtime, so, from spring to fall, there's constant color out here in my patio area until the first snowfall."

She said that was her plan to keep the color throughout the year so her patio didn't look empty and bare.

Friend said she has begonias she plants in the spring that she can fill in with as the summer goes on.

"The begonias are waiting in the wings to take over for the others as they begin to lose their color," Friend said, adding that her garden also contains roses, hydrangeas and Black-eyed Susan.

Friend said most of the flowers she has planted do not require a lot of watering.

The hydrangeas are the only ones that will wilt if not properly watered, she said.

"I try to keep the plants that require water and those that don't separated, that way I'm not over- or under-watering," Friend said, adding that she also used patio paver stones to accent the landscaping of her gardens.

Friend said her Black-eyed Susan was received from her neighbor Mary Ann Kernich.

"The Hostas came from my mother's garden, and the Rhododendrons are from my aunt’s garden," she said.

"I haven't spent as much time in my garden as I normally would since I had twin granddaughters that were born in April," she said. "They came nine weeks early, and I've been back-and-forth with them, and things out here get neglected for a good cause."

Friend said she was very surprised when her garden was chosen for the Garden of the Month.

"Most people don't even know we're here; we're kind of hidden back here," Friend said, adding that Courtney Neal was taking photos up at Friend's house, and she didn't know that Neal had taken photos of her gardens.

"She was up here taking pictures and snuck out and took pictures of my plants and submitted it to the Garden Club," Friend said.

She said it is a lot of work to keep up with mowing the lawn, and the storms this year broke a lot of the plants and brought a lot of limbs down, adding to the workload this summer.

"I want to thank the Garden Club for choosing my garden for the Garden of the Month, Friend said. "I was truly surprised and appreciate the honor that was bestowed on me."