Plymouth gardeners share their splendor in upcoming tour

Sandy Lester’s English country garden is splendid mix of shade and sun perennials. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Gorgeous Gardens of Plymouth set for Sunday, July 16

Garden lovers be aware. The Plymouth library will host its third Gorgeous Gardens of Plymouth benefit tour 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 16.

All of proceeds will benefit the Plymouth library. The first tour was in 2014 when the Friends of the Plymouth Library members sought a new fundraiser.

This event provides an opportunity for garden enthusiasts to admire six local gardens, visit with and ask questions of the homeowners.
“It’s a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon – spending time outdoors and admiring the beauty of gardens,” said Cathy Fischer, Friends of the Plymouth Library member and event co-chair.

Among the gardens on the self-guided tour are an English country garden by Master Gardener Sandy Lester, and a perennial garden surrounding a koi pond and stream created by George and Kathy Huber.

English country garden

Sandy Lester’s English country garden is splendid mix of shade and sun perennials. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Following the 200-foot driveway lined with colorful perennials will lead visitors to University of Minnesota Master Gardener Sandy Lester’s English country garden.

Her 1960 home was once situated amidst an empty field and is now surrounded by more woodland than pavement.

When she bought the property in 1967, there wasn’t anything on the property. She began with a small garden.

Having a horticulturist mother who owned her own commercial iris and rose garden in Golden Valley, Lester was basically raised in a garden, she explained.

Eventually, she began adding patios, stone, and retaining walls and bigger gardens soon developed.

Now, there are meandering pathways connecting the gardens, where visitors can enjoy walking from one perennial garden to the next. The garden also has an open air gazebo and a pond feature.

Her gardens are a mix of shade and sun with mostly perennials, “but I spike it up with annuals,” she said, such as fuchsias. Some of her perennials include daisies, day lilies, flocks, tiger lilies, and Ligularia. Her favorite being Ligularia “The Rocket,” which bear tall, yellow spikes.

Needing more storage for her garden supplies, Lester added an Amish-made shed, which is added feature as well as a playhouse. “The grandchildren love it,” she said.

Lester’s blooms are also organic.

“It’s a very safe garden for birds, bees, and butterflies,” she said.

Koi pond and stream

One of the stops on the Gorgeous Gardens of Plymouth tour is the Hubers’ backyard oasis, which includes a stream and pond filled with koi. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

After cutting down nine unhealthy pine trees in their Plymouth backyard, Kathy and George Huber found very little vegetation that would survive in their sandy soil.

“We can’t grow vegetables to save our soul,” George said.

Instead, they were inspired to add a water feature with koi, during a trip to Hawaii.
“I thought it would be so neat,” Kathy said.

The couple started going on pond and garden tours around the Twin Cities. George wanted to add on to the pond by building a stream, which is now surrounded by Minnesota wildflowers and grasses.

“We try to go mostly native because they are best for the environment and animals,” Kathy said. Some native plants included in their pond are Maidenhair fern, water lilies, Yellow Goat’s Beard, honeysuckle, and marsh marigolds.

George Huber enjoys large-leaf plants such as this Astilboide. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Visitors on this stop on the garden tour will find unique large-leaf plants, including taro and Astilboide, George’s favorite. Unfortunately, many of these leaf-dominant plants were the most affected by a June hailstorm that swept through the northwest metro.

The Hubers also enjoy a variety of wildlife that passes through their suburban yard.

Along with the birds, bees and butterflies, they also have deer, fox, ducks and a great blue heron.
“He’s the only guy I don’t like,” she said, noting he has taken three of the koi fish this year.

The Hubers have taken the matter into their own hands, however, by utilizing a Halloween decoration that serves as a scarecrow. Thus far, this has proven to be as effective at scaring the herons as it on trick-or-treaters.

Their backyard oasis has become the Hubers’ getaway to enjoy their retirement.

“While our friends are driving to the cabin, we’re on our second glass of wine,” George commented.

Tickets, which are available at the Plymouth Bachman’s during normal business hours for $10 until the day before the tour, will provide a map of the gardens. Tickets will also be available for $15 the day of the tour.

Other gardens include a prairie garden featured on KARE 11’s “Grow with KARE,” a fairy garden and memory garden, and an extensive woodland garden.

The Gorgeous Gardens of Plymouth tour will go on rain or shine. Tour attendees who are ages 12 and under are free.

Hubers’ backyard oasis, which includes a stream and pond filled with koi. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)