Include Simon Perkins Mansion, grounds in fall excursion
By Dayle Davis
WEST AKRON — Be sure to schedule time on your fall calendar to visit the grounds at Simon Perkins Mansion, home of the Summit County Historical Society (SCHS).
There you will find a marvelously reproduced rendition of the original gazebo that graced the north side of the mansion grounds more than 50 years ago. The new gazebo is now surrounded by newly landscaped beds and perennials, planted by West Side Leader co-owner Michael Serge, a volunteer coordinator for the gazebo project.
Serge filled me in on the details of the landscaping project, which was just recently completed.
“Tim Roth of Perkins Landscaping used a power sod cutter to cut away the existing grass/sod,” said Serge. “The machine makes 18-inch-wide rows and cuts under the grass roots. Then we took flat shovels and a unique old-style tool, a gooseneck sod scraper, to remove the areas that the power sod cutter could not reach due to grade fluctuations and a too-close proximity to the gazebo.”
Next Roth and Serge incorporated a prefertilized topsoil, peat moss and a manure/sand blend, tilling the materials to mix and fully prepare the beds.
Serge noted that, just like around a house, each side of the gazebo presents unique microclimates with different sun and rainfall exposures to consider when choosing plant material. Also, the gazebo’s large roof eaves inhibit the soil directly beneath it from receiving much rainfall, so the plants had to be placed outside of the drip line created by the eaves in order to receive rainfall.
With a pink color scheme chosen by the SCHS, the following plants were chosen: five Echinacea ‘Ruby Star’ (purple coneflower); three garden mums; one hosta ‘Sum and Substance’; one fern ‘Lady in Red’; five dwarf ornamental grasses P. ‘Little Bunny’; two 6-foot-tall ornamental grasses; three pink asters; five Astilbe ‘Visions’; three Buddlea ‘Pink’ (butterfly bush); two pink-blooming Hydrangea vine; and two tropical, pink-flowering Mandevillia for the summer season.
Pam Thomas, of Pam’s Perennials, who helped with appropriate plant choices, donated the perennials on the list.
Sisters Flower Haus donated the Mandevillia and agreed to remove and store the tropical plants in the winter months. Finding a suitable source for the Hydrangea vines is in process.
“I’m just a catalyst, contributor and volunteer laborer,” said Serge. “I feel honored that the SCHS allowed this project to happen.
“It’s not very often a structure at a historic site that has been gone for 50 years is allowed to be rebuilt by a total outsider/stranger,” he added. “To be able to be part of making it complete by surrounding it with landscape gardens is the icing on top a very satisfying endeavor and contribution.”
Dayle Davis is a freelance writer
and avid perennial gardener, with a B.A. in communications
and course work in botany, geology and wildflowers.
Davis is certified as a Master Gardener under The Ohio
State University’s Horticultural Extension.
Still-potted plants await permanent
installation in their desired locations.
A power sod cutter and a gooseneck
sod scraper helped scrape away grass.
Newly planted beds surround
the Simon Perkins Mansion Gazebo. The beds await the
A vintage photo shows the original gazebo and surrounding
gardens. Photo courtesy of
the Summit County Historical Society