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Bibler Gardens offers a splendid seasonal oasis

by MACKENZIE REISS
Bigfork Eagle | May 17, 2020 1:00 AM

A menagerie of yellow, pink and orange tulips flank the brick path at the entrance to the Bibler Home and Gardens, beckoning visitors into the floral Eden full of history and eccentricities.

The property, situated on an expansive hillside overlooking Kalispell, was built in 1979 by Louis A. “Sam” Bibler. Bibler hailed from Portland, Indiana, and flew 25 missions over Europe as a bombardier in World War II. After the war, he earned a degree in geology and relocated to Alberta, Canada, with a business partner to pursue a career in the oil and gas business.

In 1966, he and his wife Jean moved to Kalispell and it was there that his passion for gardening flourished. Bibler maintained the large garden at his home until his passing in 2002. In Bibler’s absence, a staff of six have kept up the property per his wishes, and every spring and summer, the property is open to the public for tours.

Guests can explore the four-acre property, admiring tulips, daffodils and pansies, bordered by golden alyssum, candy tuft and blooming fruit trees. Across meandering brooks and waterfalls are artfully placed bridges that appear to have been sourced straight from a fairytale.

One can take refuge from the heat of the day in the gazebo, which sits above one of the many ponds on the property inhabited by a stunning pair of Australian black swans. The lower garden is home to some of the more unique features — a towering metal wind harp crafted by Bigfork’s Jeffrey Funk, and the stable, home to miniature donkeys and goats. The animals aren’t available for viewing this year due to the pandemic, but the stable is well worth a stop as the top floor window offers a breathtaking view of the primary and middle Foy’s lakes.

The other significant change to this year’s tours is that the Bibler home is off limits so as to prevent individuals from gathering in close quarters. The home was designed by Kalispell architect Bill Bierrum and contains a host of 18th and 19th Century furnishings from England and Scotland along with paintings by European and Montanan artists. Still, the gardens alone provide ample entertainment and a particularly nice reprieve can be found on the upper deck adjacent to the arboretum where a bench and small table and chairs are situated. It’s easy to imagine Sam Bibler himself taking his morning coffee in this spot, looking over the splendor he created and into the valley below.

The spring weekend tours, which ran May 9-10 and 16-17, were sold out, but there may still be other opportunities to explore the Bibler Gardens during the remainder of the year. Guests can typically visit the gardens in late July and early August, although the precise format of these tours has yet to be established, due to changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest information, please visit www.biblergardens.org.

Reporter Mackenzie Reiss may be reached at 758-4433 or mreiss@dailyinterlake.com.

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Daffodils bloom at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Tulips bloom at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Tulips bloom along a walking path at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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Tulips bloom at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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A bee buzzes around grape hyacinth flowers at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Two black swans swim on a pond at Bibler Gardens.

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Tulips bloom at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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A bee gets a drink of nectar from grape hyacinth flowers at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Daffodils bloom along a walking path at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Tulips bloom along a walking path at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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A view of Foys Lake is shown from a stable building at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Tulips bloom at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Grape hyacinth blooms at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Tulips bloom at Bibler Gardens in Kalispell on Saturday, May 9. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)