Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Garden Glory Morning Glory Inn's Courtyard Garden Gives Tour-Goers a Southern Welcome

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Garden Glory Morning Glory Inn's Courtyard Garden Gives Tour-Goers a Southern Welcome

Article excerpt

In the 1860s and '70s, John G. Fisher's courtyard garden earned its keep as a showcase for the German immigrant's handmade bricks and pavers. Later, it was a utilitarian space where the Stokus family raised fowl for duck soup. Today, the shady space works as the reception area for weddings and events at the Morning Glory Inn on the South Side.

From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. July 22, the inn and its garden will be one of eight stops on the fifth annual South Side Garden Tour. Tour tickets are $20 and VIP tickets are $40. VIP tickets include the tour, a reception afterward with hor d'oeuvres, wine, music by Cello Fury and a talk on summer gardening by Doug Oster of Everybody Gardens. The tour is organized by the South Side Community Council. Proceeds support the Esser Plaza Revitalization Project.

Inn owner Dave Eshelman said tour-goers will get a taste of what it's like to be a guest at the 30-35 weddings held at the inn each year. Couples often exchange vows beneath an iron arch covered with climbing hydrangea. Their guests have full use of the 1862-built house and ancient courtyard with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern. It reminds many visitors of the historic gardens of New Orleans, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.

Just swap the mint juleps for champagne, beer, wine and gin and tonics.

"It's an eating, talking, flowing party inside and out," said Mr. Eshelman, who opened the inn in 1996 and hosted its first wedding reception in 1999. He guesses the inn, with its five guestrooms and separate bridal suite in an 1872 row house, has hosted more than 500 weddings.

"The garden evolved with the inn. It has become a huge part of it," he said.

The flowering vine that gave the Morning Glory Inn its name was one of the few plants growing there when Mr. Eshelman and his then-wife, Nancy, finished restoring the house and opened the city's third bed-and-breakfast 21 years ago.

Other holdovers are a red rhododendron and a silver maple tree that now towers over the courtyard.

The Eshelmans added a redbud tree, more antique wrought-iron fencing and curving raised flower beds that now hold begonias, phlox, azaleas, polka dot plants and other annuals and perennials. Palms in large containers and Virginia creeper on the surrounding brick walls add a Southern flavor. Brittany Danford is the staff gardener and most of the plants come from Chapon's Greenhouse in Baldwin Borough.

Other picturesque details include an antique iron gate from West Virginia, an old garden shed, a lighted stone fountain made by Eichenlaub and a gazebo that houses the outdoor bar. …

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