This year’s Antigo Garden Club tour—which has grown into one of the area’s most popular summertime events—promises to be among the more unusual.
Five one-of-a-kind gardens, all located within an easy drive south and west of Antigo, will be featured on this years tour, including the Molly and Eric Gunderson home along Highway 52 in Aniwa that regularly draws attention for its wild and whimsical sculptures.
The tour will take place on Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Tickets, which also include the location map to the gardens, are $5 per person and can be purchased at the Antigo/Langlade County Chamber of Commerce, Lakeside Market and Northern Roots. Tickets will also be available at each of the garden locations.
Garden Club members will be at each site along with the garden owners to give tours and answer questions. The club is also offering a mini-garden makeover plus numerous other prizes as part of a drawing for ticket holders.
Gardens featured on this years tour include:
Molly and Eric Gunderson, 4112 Highway 52, Aniwa
Travelers on highway 52 between Aniwa and Wausau certainly ask themselves "what's up with the huge hammer," followed by a curiosity about all the other sculptures surrounding the Molly and Eric Gunderson home.
The couple will personally answer those questions and give tours of their sculpture gardens. They continue to add large sculptures throughout the property which started out as a service garage in the early 1900's by his grandfather. Their artistic talents combined with great imagination make this a "must see" stop.
Cindy Weber, 4145 Damitz Ed, Aniwa
What started out as a gravel pit on hunting land that included a metal building and an old tractor tire garden has evolved into dozens of garden settings. Cindy Weber, the visionary, is still adding gardens with the help of her son Johnny and husband Chris.
Weber uses the gardens as therapy between owning and managing a hair salon in Wausau. She enjoys spending free time tending existing gardens while dreaming about the next garden. Her son Johnny, ending his teenage years, not only helps create new gardens, his love for antique farm equipment has become the theme for many of the gardens.
People may be treated to displays of antique farm equipment complementing beautiful gardens. The flowers were selected based on how they fit into the numerous gardens that fill the property.
Weber summed up her thoughts with "there is nothing more satisfying than seeing beautiful flowers when I get up in the morning, and after a hard day at work."
Laura Schneider, W9330 Hwy. 47
"Kitchen gardens" tended by her grandparents in Romania planted the seeds for Laura Schneider's lifelong passion for gardening. The gardens feature unique "Weeping Conifers" along with a wide range of flowers and vegetables and fruit trees.
Schneider said she is looking forward to describing how she selects plants to fit the theme of each garden. She has participated in the Master Gardener course and continues to build on her roots that germinated in the kitchen gardens of Romania.
Buildings include the "High Tunnel," garden shed, stacked rock wall and outdoor fireplace where she and husband Dave can enjoy late evening sights, sounds and aroma of the ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetable and herb gardens along with visions of "what's next."
Deb Thom, 9347 Rollwood Rd.
Deb Thom always enjoyed gardening, but really got serious about it when she moved into her new house about four years ago while operating her Adult Family Home for special needs.
Thom’s gardens evolved from themes centered around plants and materials found at rummage sales, flea markets and friends on the lookout for new gardens. Flowers and ornamentals are selected to highlight each theme with lots of imagination and "what's available." Plants were selected for colors, texture and availability.
Walking through the gardens will transform visitors into seasons and settings that will conjure memories of childhood experiences, family picnics and fun times.
Peggy Sailer, W9309 N. Rollwood Rd.
Peggy Sailer's land was originally owned by her family and was blessed (or cursed) with huge and numerous rocks deposited by the Wisconsin glaciation episode over 27,000 years ago. A huge rock wall about 200 feet long with a plethora of smaller rocks between Antigo Silt Loam provided the inspiration for rock gardens second to none in Langlade County.
Natural terrain features with vegetation already in place offered shady areas favored by some plants along with many sunny slopes for sun loving plants. Starting about 10 years ago and after nurturing hundreds of perennials, the gardens are still a work in progress.
The walking paths throughout the gardens with its enormous rock wall will create a sense of awe for participants. Sailer said she is eager to answer questions and provide details about her "work in progress" giant rock gardens to all visitors to her gardens.
Garden tour participants will first see the smaller rock fence along Rollwood Road protecting a well laid out vegetable garden. A short walk behind the house is required to view the massive rock garden with many mature trees pushing up between the rocks and spectacular perennial flower blooms.