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Stepping Stones’ Garden Tour 2022 returns as in-person event

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After a two-year hiatus, Stepping Stones of Dunn County’s annual garden tour returns as a live, in-person event. Departing from the virtual video format of the past two years, local gardeners will once again invite visitors into their earthly Edens from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 25.

Five splendid gardens showcase the unique vision and artistry of their creators. “After two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and virtual tours, we are thrilled to welcome everyone back – in person – to what will be our 21st annual tour … come rain or come shine!” said Jane Redig, Garden Tour Chair.

About the gardensWoodland Setting (Candy and Darwin Anderson)

Amid the trees, the Anderson’s collector garden near Cedar Falls features a touch of the formal intermingled with antique country accents. Take a stroll around the woods path or down to Tainter Lake while exploring beds of lilies, 383 living cultivars of Hosta and a fairy garden. “We love how the garden constantly changes. In the spring, different plants come up every day, and the bulbs bloom at different times. In the summer, each plant takes it turn blooming, so it is something new every day.”

The entire garden is meticulously mapped on a unique computer program written by Darwin: “Year to year, we love watching how the garden changes as the plants grow and mature – and it is never dull because some plants have to be moved if they get too big, or a spot has to be filled in if something doesn’t grow.”

Labor of Love (Kris Winter)

According to Kris Winter, when her farm south of Menomonie was purchased back in 1992, “There were cows by the barn and three clumps of hostas near the house. My garden has been a 30-year labor of love … renovating buildings, fussing with plants, and falling in love with my brother’s metal art.”

In addition to her extensive collection of Bruce Radle’s distinctive outdoor artwork, Winter’s projects have included unearthing a 1907 cistern and surrounding it with fieldstone walls and flowers. “Visitors are invited to tour the cistern, my 1905 granary studio, and my 1916 dairy barn, the Paper Cow Theater. I love how my garden continually changes and constantly inspires me to create, collect and relax.”

M’s Garden (Dick Lamers)

Even before they started building their house on Tainter Lake near Colfax, Dick Lamers said his late wife Marilyn was storing hostas on the property. It’s the memories that he loves best about the garden they created together, where the lake view is enhanced by natural vegetation sprinkled with blooms of various origins.

“It’s a nice quiet place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy life,” he said. “A rain garden that makes you feel like you’re in a remote place, cool to the summer heat with a moss-covered walkway to enjoy over 40 varieties of hostas and other native plants.”

Prickly Ash Hill (Laurel & Fred Bird)

Twenty years ago, the Birds bought a semi-wooded lot with several unmanaged hayfields west of Menomonie. Over the past 15 years, they added a house, sheep barn, feed shed, chicken coop, workshop, solar array – and gardens, starting with a hosta bed followed by a sunny strip garden along the front pasture and vegetable patch.

“As the years went by, we added more gardens: a native grass garden, wildflowers along a section of driveway and lots more hosta gardens … and continue adding gardens to this day,” Laurel reflects.

“We jokingly tease each other that he makes more gardens because I bought more plants – and I say I bought more plants because he made another garden. We both enjoy the diversity of garden types and plants and see no reason to curb our fun in gardening!”

Birds, bees, butterflies & blooms (Susan & Ted Hoyt)

Located in the rolling hills north of Menomonie, the Hoyt’s garden includes many features starting with the waterfall pond the Hoyts installed 20 years ago. “Who knew it would trigger a 20-year infatuation with an eclectic hodgepodge of perennials, annuals, container plants, pear trees, scattered garden art created by Ted and various natural wood accents that would provide a habitat to entice birds, bees and butterflies,” Susan said.

The couple also found ways to overcome the challenge of heavy clay soil: “Flowers in large variety of pots. Compost, compost, compost. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Sturdy shovels, small garden tiller, sturdy boots and garden shows – and lots of muscle!”

Garden Market, Bench Raffle, Online Auction

Featuring a wide variety of plants and other outdoor items, the Garden Market will once again be held at Stepping Stones (1602 Stout Road) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, and Friday, June 24, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the tour on Saturday, June 25.

Courtesy of the late Nancy Schofield, the Aldo Leopold garden bench project lives on with a final raffle of four beautifully decorated benches that will be on display during the Garden Market. Raffle tickets — $5 each or 5 for $20 – will be available for sale at the market and at each site on the Garden Tour.

A new tradition introduced during the pandemic, the annual online auction of fine artwork, garden treasures, gift baskets and more will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 18 and close promptly at 9 p.m. one week later on the day of the tour. Visit www.steppingstonesdc.org for details.

All Garden Tour proceeds benefit Stepping Stones’ food pantry, shelter, community connections program.

If you go

What: 21st annual Stepping Stones’ Garden Tour

When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, June 25

Where: Five garden sites in and around Menomonie

Cost: Advance tickets are $15 and available online at www.steppingstonesdc.org, Stepping Stones of Dunn County’s Facebook page as well as at the following local businesses: MarketPlace Foods, Dick’s Fresh Market, Bookends on Main, Hive & Hollow, Season’s Harvest, and Bobolink Nursery LLC.

Same-day tickets are $17 and can be purchased at any garden on the tour or at the Garden Market. There is no charge for children under 16.

The ticket booklets include each garden’s address and directions. There’s a suggested route (including signage), but participants can start at any garden and tour at their leisure.

Information: 715-235-2920; www.steppingstonesdc.org; Facebook and Instagram at Stepping Stones of Dunn County.

PHOTOS & CUTLINES (photo credit should read: Submitted)

Photo 1: Anderson garden CUTLINE: Candy & Darwin Anderson garden

Photo 2: Winter garden CUTLINE: Kris Winter garden

Photo 3: M’s Garden CUTLINE: Dick Lamers garden

Photo 4: Bird Garden CUTLINE: Laurel & Fred Bird garden

Photo 5: Hoyt garden CUTLINE: Susan & Ted Hoyt garden

Thank you!

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