From castles to basalt rock fountains and whimsical yard art, the Minot Symphony's secret garden tour offers a peak into five fine area yards.
Symphony publicist Paulette Dailey noted that the tour, Wednesday, July 16, offers visitors a variety of landscape possibilities with useful solutions for many situations.
From the urban lot that is home to Sue, Lloyd and Scott Bethke in southwest Minot to nearly four acres occupied by Brent and Stacey Askvig in northeast Minot, the gardeners suggest imaginative ways to use and enjoy outdoor space.
Stacy and Brent Askvig combined her hobby of stained glass creations with the garden theme of their suburban yard.
Basalt stones, which originated in Oregon, highlight the large pond behind the home of Vicky and Tom Haider.
Tom and Vicky Haider and Marilyn and Bill Franklin, all on the southeast edge of the city, and Steve and Cheryl Coyle in northwest Minot also are opening their homes in the symphony's 20th annual Secret Garden Tour.
Dailey noted tickets are available in advance at Lien's Jewelry and Lowe's Floral & Garden Center in Minot or Mohall Flower House Garden Center. Tickets purchased before July 15 are $12 for adults and children over 12 or $15 when purchased the night of the tour at any of the homes. Tickets also may be purchased at Scandinavian Heritage Park from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 16.
"Proceeds benefit the Symphony," Dailey said. "Funds go into the general fund to buy or rent the music we play. We pay to use each piece of music we perform." She said this year, with the orchestra adding a special Christmas concert which is not part of the annual subscription series, the music costs will be especially meaningful.
Garden tour benefits also help pay for music scholarships to university students.
Tour guests will have a chance to enjoy music along with the gardens; local musicians, including symphony members and students, will present music at several of the homes, including the Askvigs.
Refreshments also will be a bonus for visitors. The Haiders said an antique cook stove in one of their backyard gathering areas will be used to make S'mores for guests and the Bethkes also will have refreshments.
"There will be so much to see and do," Dailey said. "The Symphony's garden store is always popular, a great place to pick up unique items for yards, decks and patios."
She said articles such as glass art, mosaics, stepping stones and much more would be available for sale.
However, it is the gardens and yards themselves that will be the focus of visitors.
"We have water features like Haiders' basalt stone fountain, a water tower, forts and castles," she said.
The Askvigs began with castles for their first two grandchildren. That number has grown to four now, fit in among a front yard flower bed, a garden for small vegetables and a larger one for potatoes and pumpkins. "There is a little knoll with three terraces on it, too," Stacy Askvig said.
"And I like to work in stained glass so we incorporated some of that,too."
The Haiders, who began with a muddy swamp in 1986, have placed many tons of rock and gravel to turn their acreage into the place it is today, with several welcoming seating areas scattered among vegetable and flower gardens, yard art and lovingly constructed accessories like a full-size buckboard. A large pond with more than 30 varied colors of fish and water plants purchased or gathered locally always draw crowds.
Dailey noted each set of gardeners dealt with the specific environment of their yards, whether it was size or growing condiditons such as the alkaline soil the Haiders encountered.
The Franklins' watering system may interest most visitors, and the Bethkes' salad garden and succulents on their private deck are likely to set imaginations to work.
"There is something for everyone on this tour," Dailey said, "whether gardeners want to see what plants thrive or find uses for items they buy or have on hand."