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If you travel up Valley Road in Manheim Township you may not know that Oz, from the Wizard of Oz fame, is just a few footsteps away.
Dennis Denenberg lives tucked back down a long driveway off the main road, surrounded by gardens unlike anything you’ve seen before: a full Wizard of Oz themed wonderland. A yellow brick road curves under overarching branches, cascading florals, and swirling flowerbeds, all in eye-popping color that would make the beginning black-and-white aesthetic of the Wizard of Oz film jealous. This is a full-on kaleidoscope of vibrant color.
A secret bamboo garden reaches towards the sky; each shoot of bamboo twirling and swirling with unique character all its own. Butterflies flutter around a rainbow of petals; each color giving way to the next beautiful display around each bend.
“It’s the most photographed private property in Lancaster county,” said Denenberg. “It’s just very unique—the gardens are so extensive and have such personality.”
Denenberg wanted to create a space that could be a magical escape or beautiful destination for visitors.
But the themes don’t stop there. Inside the house there’s something just as magical.
“The whole house is Wizard of Oz themed.”
I had to check out this place myself. The photos are amazing and so are the stories of others who visit, but this calls for an in-person experience. I had a guided garden and house tour from Dennis Denenberg. The space is open for fundraisers, events, and special group outings. Here are the highlights from this incredible destination right here within the Lancaster community.
One of the main draws of this unique destination is the lush garden surrounding the property. With hundreds of flowers, bushes, and trees dotting the landscape, it’s easy to get lost in the exploration. Here are some of the top parts of this beautiful area.
We, of course, had to start at the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road.
“I want visitors to feel the magic of the movie, of the story, when exploring this garden.”
From a house just made for Toto, to a newly-finished Emerald City, the Oz themes are prevalent throughout the entire experience.
“People love the Oz garden,” said Denenberg. “Whether it’s because of their own appreciation for the movie or because it represents an adventure, they always enjoy seeing all of the wonderful things that make it unique.”
Walking through the tour sparked a curiosity and even more appreciation for how the thematic elements blend into the landscape.
The Bamboo Cove
Nearing the one corner of the garden is a massive overarching bamboo grove that provides space for thought, calmness, and relaxation.
“One of the most talked about parts of the garden is the bamboo area,” said Denenberg. “People love it.”
It’s not only a beautiful sight, but it’s open in the middle to create a little cove.
“The bamboo garden is so peaceful. When you are in that garden you truly feel like you’re in a different place. There is a calmness there.”
The Pink Garden
One of the most powerful aspects of the garden is the area dedicated entirely to pink florals like tulips and hyacinths that represent the fight against breast cancer.
“The pink garden really honors any person fighting breast cancer,” said Denenberg. “It’s a place where people can go who have that battle or to reflect on someone they know who does.”
It started as a garden in honor of Dennis’s sister Diana. And now it’s a continually growing, and extremely popular, part of the tour. It’s very impactful for visitors and is usually on the top of the list for those who visit.
Dennis recalls a group of women, all suffering from a similar cancer, visiting the garden and discovering a sort of escape there together. He hopes the flowers, especially those in the pink garden, are able to represent a certain strength and hope.
“My goal is to show the beauty of the garden, and the important symbolism within it. It’s a gorgeous area with a very powerful message.”
It isn’t just the gardens that are epic. By entering the house tour, you will quickly be immersed by the stunning array of Art Deco collectibles and Wizard of Oz treasures that makes visiting this portion of the tour unbelievable.
“I fell in love with the movie as a child in the 1950s,” said Denenberg. “Then I started this collection when I was in Ocean City, Maryland in the 80s. And since then it has grown to be in the whole house.”
The Wizard of Oz collection in Dennis’ house creates a mesmerizing look-and-find opportunity where visitors can browse hundreds of items and collectibles from classic designs to newer additions. It’s incredible how immense the collection is and how fun it is to discover all of the unique items.
“I think people love this movie because the characters are so universal. It’s exciting because of the magic this story has. It’s fun, adventurous, and colorful.”
Guests can tour the house and themed areas that really capture the feel and fun of the movie.
“I am so proud of this collection,” added Denenberg. “And I love the reactions people have when they see it.”
Art Deco Collection
To go along with the Oz theme, a giant Art Deco collection is spread throughout the house.
“The Emerald City from Oz was very Art Deco. The whole movie has elements of Art Deco, but especially the city.”
Visitors will experience rare items from various decades—a snapshot of history through the perspective of tableware, household items, cigarette cases, dishes, and much more.
“It’s really a little bit of everything.”
There are so many pieces to discover. You could spend hours looking at all the displays!
Book Your Party for 2018!
The lush gardens are captivating, and the house is full of fancy collections and cool vintage finds.
But one of the best parts of the whole experience was discovering that Dennis wanted to truly give back to the community.
“I really want this place to be a fundraising option,” said Denenberg. “This isn’t for personal gain—it’s really to help charities.”
There are two ways for this to impact a cause. One, individuals associated with a charity can have an event at the garden, sell tickets for a tour, host a picnic, and more, with all money raised going directly to the charity of choice.
Secondly, individuals can host an event at the gardens and donate money directly to the charity Dennis supports in honor of his sister, Diana’s Dreamers: Determined to Defeat Breast Cancer.
“Either option gives opportunity to enrich the community and make it a better place.”
Whether you want to take a trek down the Yellow Brick Road, or discover some Art Deco treasures from decades ago, this is a spot you have to visit.
The 2018 season is already filling up. Don’t miss your chance to have a unique fundraiser or event your guests will never forget.
You can contact Dennis directly by emailing him with any inquiries or questions you may have.
“The number one comment I get from visitors is ‘I left here smiling,’” said Denenberg. “Isn’t that wonderful? That’s the whole purpose of it. Ultimately, it’s about providing a happy space. And if I can help do that I did my job.”
Enjoy more snapshots of the trip below!