In Milford, seven secret gardens revealed

| 31 Jul 2015 | 11:30

By Linda Fields
If you ever want to be inspired, or simply just enjoy the sight of lovely gardens, the Milford Garden Club’s annual Secret Garden Tour won’t disappoint. This year’s 23rd annual tour was no exception. The event, planned and organized by club members, is the group’s biggest fundraiser, with proceeds going toward public buildings and parks all over Milford. Saturday’s ticket holders received a map that revealed seven sites and three points of interest, each with its own panache.

Guy Spalding’s eight-acre estate on Milford Heights Road was on the tour in 2009, but it is an ever-evolving work in progress and worth seeing more than once. Among the paved pathways around his gardens, he has added six more specialty outbuildings for a total of 11. You’ll find a kitchen, meditation/massage room and shower. He also added five new waterfall ponds and four more gazebos, but he isn’t finished.

“I love to design,” said Spalding. “I’m an amateur designer and artist ... In the works I have a four-car garage, a photo gallery, steam room/spa and guest cottage.”

But what he likes most, he told The Pike County Courier, is the serenity and privacy his gardens give him.

On Foster Hill Road, you could visit a meditation garden with a spectacularly landscaped pond and waterfalls designed by owners Peter Esgro and David Marshall. It includes a cedar tree from a Japanese bonsai garden. Esgro, who practices Reiki, finds his garden an ideal escape. Also not to be missed on Foster Hill Road was a two-acre hillside garden, planted with herbs, vegetables, perennial shrubs, flower gardens and ornamental trees surrounding the patio, pool, gazebo and a cabin.

Robin Fohl’s delightful gardens on Sarah Street began with sage, inspired by her 5-year-old daughter Saige, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder. Since the bumble bee is symbolic in her daughter’s struggle, pollinators like beebalm have prominence in her garden alongside the whimsical birdhouses and bright beds of daisies and lilies.

The gardens on West Catherine Street included one with a lovely shaded perennial bed set perfectly into a corner not far from the roses on a white picket fence. Too enormous to miss were the hydrangea flowers, nurtured with “lots of love and a little Miracle Grow” along with the other perennials, since the owners moved in five years ago. Another home on the same street featured beds of ferns, ligularia, and hosta with a variety of flowers outside a bucolic country shed.

The tour included points of interest like the Remembrance Place Garden off Harford Street — once an abandoned graveyard, now a sanctuary designed and cared for by the Garden Club members. Also included: the gardens at Grey Towers and the Community Garden on Route 6 and 209, where fresh food is grown and donated to the ecumenical food pantry at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The money raised from the Garden Tour goes to projects like these — and as beautification chief Theresa Johnson pointed out, to plant those 30 urns all over town, and beautify the courthouse, administration building, sheriff’s building, veteran’s memorial, Columns Museum, the Tom Quick monument, parks and the four signs coming into Milford.

Club spokesperson Sue Daley said the turnout this year was tremendous, and she expressed thanks to all who came. Added Daley, “The 2016 tour is already in the works.”

Visit the Milford Garden Club at or on Facebook at Milford-Garden-Club-Pike-County.