Friday, June 9, 2017

Raymond Village Library offers third Biennial Garden Tour in late June by Elizabeth Richards

On Saturday, June 24, eight private gardens in Raymond will be open to visitors on a self-guided tour as part of the Raymond Garden Tour, a fundraiser held every other year for the Raymond Village Library. Garden designers will be on hand to talk with gardening enthusiasts about their creative process in cultivating the inviting spaces. The drive between farms showcases the rural countryside and scenic waterfronts of Raymond. 
Elissa Gifford, who helps organize the tour and will open her own garden to the public this year, said that different gardens are featured on each tour to allow guests to experience a new array each time. 

Though gardeners generally agree that no garden is ever finished, Gifford said, participating in the tour provides a goal with a deadline by which to complete and implement their gardening ideas. “My garden has evolved to the point where we can confidently invite visitors believing they will enjoy the experience. Yes, there are unfinished areas, weeds here and there, and things needing pruning or deadheading but that’s the everyday reality of an ornamental garden,” Gifford said.

Mulberry Farms, a certified organic vegetable garden owned by Frank and Deb Pecararo, will also be featured on the tour. The Pecararos purchased the property in 2014 and have been renovating ever since, including rebuilding the farmhouse and putting landscaping in place.   

In 2015, said Deb, the farm operation began on a cash only basis with a couple of tables under a canopy and limited hours during fair weather. They began with some perennial produce: strawberries; blueberries; raspberries; fruit trees; and asparagus, as well as some annual crops. 

Since then, they have built a permanent farm stand, and the perennial and annual plantings have expanded each year.

View of Mulberry Farms
History is important at Mulberry Farms. The house has been rebuilt to look like the original house from the 1700s. A stone wall built from the granite that was the foundation of the old house is incorporated into the landscaping, and plant varieties that have been used around farm houses for generations were chosen. We are participating [in the garden tour] in part to honor the history of the property, previously a dairy farm, and the Edwards family who owned it since the early 1900s.

Carleton, Dorothy and Berenice were all very active in the community,” said Deb. “Additionally, we want to let folks know that Raymond has a MOFGA Certified Organic farm and educate them about how we grow in the hoop houses as well as the fields,” she added.

Gifford said the eight gardens on this year’s tour are an eclectic mix of ornamental and working vegetable and fruit gardens, with locations ranging from waterside to inland steep slopes to the Raymond Community Garden, another program of the Raymond Village Library. “We are excited to offer such variety, and feel certain there is something for everyone on this Tour,” she said.

The Raymond Garden Tour is an important fund raiser for the Raymond Village Library, Gifford said.

“Sponsors, library trustees and staff, and community volunteers team up to organize and run this event, all proceeds from which directly benefit the library and its programs,” she said. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased at the Raymond Village Library, or online at Raffle tickets for an original painting by local artist Donna Kantor, which is on display at the library, will be on sale as well. The rain date for the garden tour is Sunday, June 25.

The tour begins at the library at 9 a.m. Visitors can tour at their own pace, using a brochure and map available at the library. The tour is designed to take a full day. Participants are encouraged to visit several gardens in the morning, break for lunch at one of the surrounding businesses also featured on the map, and continue their tour in the afternoon, finishing by 3 p.m. 

But the fun doesn’t end at the last garden. After the tour, the Historic Hawthorne House will hold their annual Strawberry Festival, featuring homemade shortcake and fresh strawberries. This event, which begins at 3:30 p.m., features a talk by Jeanne Christie, Executive Director of the Association of State Wet Land Managers. Christie will speak on “Gardening for Bumble Bees and Other Native Pollinators.” 

This topic complements the goals of the garden tour. “Each of Raymond’s tours is created around the belief that exposure to a variety of gardens and gardening techniques fosters an interest in sustainability. Living as we do in Raymond, near and on bodies of water, reminds us of the responsibility we have to make the best gardening choices possible to keep the water clean and keep pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, alive,” said Gifford.

Admission to the Strawberry Festival is $10 for adults, $5 for children 8 and under. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are appreciated. Reservations can be made by at:

The Raymond Garden Tour will be preceded by a gardening talk at the library. Authors and horticulturists Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto will talk about their book, “The Life in Your Garden: Gardening for Biodiversity”, on Wednesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit:

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