By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
SANBORNTON — For a town filled with a wide variety of gardens and farms, neither Kris Rathjen of KREBS Farm on Upper Bay Road nor Faith Tobin of Tobin's Woodland Garden wonder now why they never thought of a garden tour before this year.
And for the first time "ever," said Tobin, there is a chance for people to tours five of Sanbornton's gardens and farms and support The Grange and the town library.
"These are not professionally landscaped," said Tobin, who is known throughout town for selling varieties of her lilies to the annual plant sale for the Sanbornton Historical Society. "These are some of our town's backyard gardens."
The five stops on the July 17 tour are Tobin's Woodland Gardens, which is the home of the Tobins on Knox Mountain Road; The Back Door Farm, which is the home of Steve and Karen Ober at 149 March Road; Seller's Glads, which is the home of Ralph and Darlene Sellers of 299 Sanborn Road; KREBS Farm, which is the home of the Rathjens; and Presby's Gardens, which is the home of Bob and Linda Presby at 569 Lower Bay Road.
Each stop is just a little bit different, said Tobin.
While her gardens are carved from a craggy mountain top, Rathjen's Farm is a more traditional farm with spectacular views of Lake Winnisquam.
Tobin's farm also has goat cliffs, a small pasture with horses and a donkey, ducks and a bunny house. They have built a woodland creature garden and a children's garden that will be on display.
Rathjen said her and her husband, Ralph, bought the former Cataldo Farm in 2010, which had been lying fallow for a number of years, and planted vegetables and a variety of fruit bushes, including 1,000 blueberry bushes and black raspberry and raspberry bushes. They do a pick-your-own berry season, and she said the blueberries should be ripe for the tour.
There is a piggery at KREBS Farm and well as food ducks.
"This is a chance for all of us to show off some of the great gardens and farms that are right here in our neighbors' back yards," said Rathjen.
The Rathjens sell most of their produce to local restaurants and at the farm stand. They occasionally go to local farmer's markets.
The Obers' farm sits on a 1765 Land Grant lot and Tobin said a visit shows some of the challenges of Colonial Era farming.
The original barn blew down in the Hurricane of 1938 and the remaining stone foundation is home to at least nine varieties of invasive plants that they work tireless to remove and replant with herbs and perennials.
Seller's Glads was founded when Ralph found a bag of about 60 gladiola bulbs that had belonged to his mother-in-law and planted them out of respect for her. In the 20 years since then, the bulbs have multiplied to between 8,000 to 15,000 annually, depending on the weather, the insects, fungus, and winter kills.
Presby Gardens is a quarter of an acre of wildflowers, ferns and perennial gardens. Statues and garden art dot the landscape and the Presby's dedication to composting has benefits for both the shade and sun flowers.
Tobin said all of the stops will serve complimentary snacks and beverages and each stop will have a door prize. She said there may be plants and/or vegetables for sale at each stop.
At Tobin's home, there will be special handmade garden benches for sale and each is decorated with different motifs and colors.
Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased ahead of time at the Sanbornton Public Library or at each individual stop on the day of the tour, which begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. There will be a restroom stop at the Old Town Hall.
Yellow lilies in one of the many gardens at the home of Bill and Faith Tobin of Knox Mountain Road.(Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
Kris Rathjen of KREBS Farm shows off some untie blueberries growing on her Sanbornton Farm. The blueberries should be ripe for the Sanbornton Garden Tour on July 17. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
Children will love the bunny house at Tobins Woodland Gardens (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
Kris Rathjen in her blueberry patch. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)