A few summers back, I attended the Symphony Splendor Garden Tour, a fundraiser for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The event invites attendees to get “nebby” in a dozen gardens across Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. There were plenty of beautiful gardens with interesting plantings and innovative landscaping, but there was one garden that completely blew me away. And I needed to find a way back to that garden one day.
As we were planning locations for this late summer batch of Yinzer Backstage Pass episodes, I remembered that garden and managed to track down its owner and creator, Mark Meader. He generously invited us for a private tour of his garden, which has only been opened to the public for a few charity events.
When Mark moved to this property in 1988, the backyard was nothing but a boring lawn edged with some “weed trees,” as he puts it. Mark got to work planting trees and shrubs and flowers. He also laid a network of brick paths and dug out an array of ponds and small waterfalls. It’s evolved quite a bit over the years as the trees have grown and some of his sunny garden beds have turned to shaded garden beds.
Today, his long and narrow backyard feels like a magical wonderland brimming with bright colors, beautiful textures and surprises around every bend. With dozens of little paths and stairways cutting through the property, it feels infinitely bigger than its footprint. (The property is 125 feet wide at the front, narrowing to 90 feet wide at the back, and 300 feet long).
The incredible masterpiece that Mark has created over the past three decades is starting to gain acclaim. His garden is now being documented as a part of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens.