"The tour is an opportunity to see gardens they would not see. It's also a nice day out in the garden followed by a reception featuring homemade goodies," Downer said.
The annual event, a Scott tradition for about 20 years, also has a practical side, said Sheila Magee, Garden Day chairwoman.
"There are many fine public gardens in the area, but this is a chance to visit a place, see something and say, 'I could do that at my house,' " Magee said.
"Part of the charm is for people to see what can be done in a small space, so the tour includes a townhouse garden. There is also a home that has only been landscaped a short time, so people moving to a new house can see what can be done in just a few years."
This year's gardens are in the Media, Wallingford and Middletown areas. The tour is from 1 to 5 p.m., with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Scott Arboretum. Established in 1929, it extends over more than 300 acres on the campus of Swarthmore College and exhibits more than 4,000 different plants, Magee said.
At Felicity Farms, the White Garden at the home's entrance flows into a rear garden where recently a butterfly flew over a bed of brightly colored zinnias located near a lantana in bloom.
Near a man-made pond and rippling waterfall is a shade garden planted within sight of a large school of catfish.
A metasequoia tree - a specimen unique in the area, according to Downer - overlooks one of several horse paddocks. The horses graze on rolling hills of grass bordered by flowering plants in a variety of sizes and colors.
Throughout the tours, volunteers will be available to provide information on individual plants and gardening, Downer said.
At a Middletown garden, guests will see a landscaped hillside known as the Spanish Steps. Built in 1940, the gray stone steps lead to a marble floor where visitors can enjoy a panorama of assorted trees and bushes.
Below are a Chinese lace-bark pine tree and a wandering stone path that takes guests to beds of flowers in purple and pink. A nearby terrace is adorned with a garden fountain in the shape of a cat and a bowl of milk.
Other gardens on the tour include collections of conifers and woody plants, one of archways, climbing vines and native plants and still another featuring young trees. From roses to weeping hemlock, each garden provides visual interest, Downer said.
"Garden Day is highly valued by our members and guests," Downer said. "It is something they look forward to each year."
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The Inquirer, 800 River Rd., Conshohocken, Pa., 19428; e-mail it to PAarts@phillynews.com; or
fax it to 610-313-8006. Contact Gloria A. Hoffner at 610-313-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
Scott Associates' Garden Day will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12. Admission is free to Scott Arboretum members; for nonmembers, the cost is $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Participants will receive a map of the garden locations.
Tickets are available in advance from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the Scott Arboretum, 500 College Ave., Swarthmore. For more information, call 610-328-8025 or visit www.scottarboretum.org.