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Nature, art unite as Rhoneymeade opens for season

Cynthia Drayton, of Valley Forge, and her daughter Annabel Drayton, a sophomore at Penn State, walk the grounds at Rhoneymeade Arboretum and Sculpture Garden on Sunday, April 5, 2015.
Cynthia Drayton, of Valley Forge, and her daughter Annabel Drayton, a sophomore at Penn State, walk the grounds at Rhoneymeade Arboretum and Sculpture Garden on Sunday, April 5, 2015. CDT photo

It was blustery Easter Sunday, but it felt like spring and as flowers begin to bloom, some families decided to spend the holiday outside at a local spot where nature and art meet.

Rhoneymeade, a garden and arboretum in Potter Township surrounded by 150 acres of farmland and woodlands, opened for the season on Sunday, and offered visitors Sunday a chance to enjoy both.

“We try to cover all kinds of bases,” said President and Manager James Lesher.

Visitors can walk various trails through the garden and also the surrounding area. Art is a central theme of attractions on site. Dozens of sculptures crafted by regional artists dot the garden and stand side by side with the dozens of types of trees planted around the Leonard Rhone house, a farmhouse built in the 1850s. The house is listed on the national registry of historic places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

A new feature this year is the opening of the first floor of the historic Rhone house as an art gallery space, Lesher said. Paintings and sculptures from the private collection of Richard Morgan, owner of the property, are displayed throughout the dwelling.

Lesher said they also try to host a local featured artist on Sundays.

Peggy Klinger is the featured artist for April and will be at Rhoneymeade on Sundays for the rest of the month. Most of the paintings displayed feature rustic landscapes, although a few depicted animals or streets and buildings. Several of them portray places of sentimental value, Klinger said. One is of a trail that she routinely walks and the other is of her father’s favorite fishing spot. She used to accompany him and sketched as he angled, she said.

Two of the paintings were crafted last fall at Rhoneymeade, she said.

“I’m just struck with the beauty of the place,” she said.

Several people took in the grounds on Sunday, including several first-time visitors.

The Liu family traveled from Selinsgrove to check out the garden. Lisong Liu said he read about it online and thought it would be a good way to enjoy a beautiful day together, he added.

“We really hated the snow and wanted to get outside,” Grace Liu said.

Cynthia Drayton, of Valley Forge, walked the grounds with her daughter Annabel, a sophomore at Penn State. Cynthia was visiting for the Easter holiday, and her daughter suggested going after hearing about the garden during an art class. Cynthia said she liked the “respect” showed for nature at Rhoneymeade and the way the sculptures have been placed among the vegetation.

Rhoneymeade will be open Sunday afternoons from April to October and is free of charge and open to the public. Staff hopes to expand hours to being open Saturdays and the entire week of the Grange Fair, Lesher said. Anyone who would like to volunteer at the site can inquire on their website.

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