Well-manicured shrubs. A cactus topiary, complete with chili pepper lights. An actual vineyard. Rock walls. Waterfalls. A gothic-revival farmhouse. And, of course, gorgeous flowers and trees of many varieties, colors and shapes.

Must be the Maine Music Society’s Garden and Home Tour.

The 14th annual fundraising tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 12, rain or shine. It features the following eight locations, including seven gardens and three home interiors:

1. Garden, Tom and Brenda Benner of Auburn

By the time Tom and Brenda Benner built their post-and-beam home five years ago, Tom had already begun landscaping the yard and incorporating his specialty shrubs and topiaries. Original fieldstone walls surround the yard, and Tom’s collection of farm implements complement the surroundings. The cul-de-sac planting area with a gazebo centerpiece is surrounded by well-manicured shrubs, trees and a saguaro cactus topiary – complete with chili pepper lights.

A relaxing water fountain is featured with daylilies and numerous annuals and perennials intermingled with weeping cultivar. A granite well cover is the focal point of an attractive planting, and a working vegetable-and-herb garden is also featured. A brick walkway leading to a comfortable farmer’s porch is lined with annuals and perennials along with an espalier pear tree and a gazing ball in the center of a daylily garden. A topiary deer in the front yard stands watch over the scene and often invites the curious “real” deer into the yard to play among the trees.

2. Garden, Richard and Solange Pepin of Lewiston

Take a tour of Europe, using your imagination instead of a passport. Get a taste of Italy walking through an actual vineyard with several types of grapes on the vine. Meander through a rock garden with Celtic monoliths. Stop to rest on the steps of a Greek amphitheater; watch birds and butterflies visiting many container gardens. Check out statuary with life-size figures reminiscent of Mediterranean gardens. Pause by a pond and waterfall. With luck, Pepin may stoke the outdoor rock oven and bake homemade bread for visitors to sample. Pepin’s imagination and talent with hardscape are evident throughout the gardens.

3. Garden, Lewiston High School Memorial Courtyard Garden

A tour of the Memorial Courtyard Garden at Lewiston High School is again offered this year. The garden contains specimen trees, daylilies, Asiatic lilies, hosta and astilbe. Also featured is a commemorative plaque honoring World War II armed forces. Public restroom facilities are available at this location.

4. Garden, Ted Ampe and Roland Morissette of Auburn

This gentlemen’s cottage garden, featured in the Sept. 2001 issue of DownEast Magazine, is hidden just a few feet from the road. A hillside that was mostly lawn is now home to thousands of perennials and fruit trees. Flowers that bloom in July include phlox, rudbeckia, feverfew and poppy. Take a seat at the raised pond – perhaps a water lily will be blooming. City noises are muffled by waterfalls. A statue of St. Bridgette (patron saint of teachers) at the lower entrance greets and invites visitors to enjoy the shade of lilacs and shrubs and to see hosta, epimedium, astilbe and ferns. The garden is surrounded by many interesting trees and shrubs – pawpaw, cordon maple, weeping birch and tamarix. Dahlias and other bold annuals find a place in the perennial beds filled with yarrow, lilies and bee balm. Tree varieties include sweet cherries, plums, pears, persimmons and topiary apple trees.

5, House and garden, Evelyn and Bob Larrabee of Auburn

A traditional Cape Code-style home with gray shakes and blue shutters, the Larrabee home features a welcoming and cozy interior decorated in blue, the homeowner’s favorite color. Gardens located in the backyard are part of a lovely rural landscape of fields and forest. Bob built the large brick patio about 30 years ago and added shrubs and flowers to its borders every season. After retirement, Evelyn developed additional small gardens, the newest covering a large weed-riddled leach bed. Walk through stepping stones that lead to an arbor laced with honeysuckle and morning glories. Nearby, a bench is snuggled in purple coneflowers, perfect for reading or relaxing on a summer’s day.

6. House, John and Rebecca Corrie of Lewiston

A gothic-revival farmhouse constructed in two centuries is home to the Corries. The front section was built in the 1860s for Lewiston entrepreneur Daniel Holland. It was the center of his “home farm” that originally spanned a few city blocks. The newest section was finished in 2002, to conform inside and out with the original. Based on early 20th-century photographs, the addition sits on the footprint of an ell and carriage house taken down around 1960. John Corrie is artistic director of the Maine Music Society.

7. Garden, R. Langston Snodgrass of Lewiston

Langston began developing a Japanese-style garden in an empty corner of his yard in 2004. The area is bounded by Maine pine trees and arbor vitae on street sides. Privet hedges line the sides and a row of rhododendrons screen the back of the garden. A red Japanese maple is the central focus with a Japanese-style palace gate providing a distant focus. Stone ponds and streams with blue slate chips represent water. Large stones, a variety of bushes, gravel paths and a Ryoan-ji-style garden create images of lakes and mountains. A renaissance-style herb garden is in development.

8, House and garden, Scott and Sue Knapp of Auburn

This house is a blend of old and new. Originally built during the presidency of John Quincy Adams, it was expanded and renovated to an open-concept design. The great room, used as a combination sitting and dining area, features wooden floors and walls. One side showcases a large granite fireplace, the other boasts 30 feet of windows overlooking Lake Auburn. The first floor parlor/music room also has a fireplace overlooking the gardens. The den contains a collection of toy fire trucks. A large deck leads outdoors to eight distinct garden areas. The largest is multilevel, surrounded by rock walls and connected by rock steps. Two shade gardens, brightened by a variety of hosta and statuary, provide expansive views of Lake Auburn. The backyard is flanked by gardens consisting of a wide variety of annuals and perennials, including an assortment of lilies as well as a small rose garden.

Tickets for the garden and house tour are $12 and may be purchased in advance in late June at Provencher Landscape and Nursery, Mr. Paperback, Ivy Cottage, Lewiston and Auburn Hannaford and Shaw’s supermarkets and also through the Maine Music Society office, 784-1403. Tickets will also be available the day of the tour at all the gardens for $14. If interested in volunteering at any of the homes or gardens on this year’s tour, contact Melanie Ness at 783-6764.


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