The Newton Public Library Foundation will host the 25th annual Newton & North Newton Garden Tour, Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, and Sunday, June 13, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Tickets – suggested donation $10 – are available at Newton Public Library, 720 N. Oak, or at the gardens during tour hours.
The 2021 garden tour homes belong to Angela and Larry Thompson; Racquel Thiesen and Jason High; Rich Stinnett and Charlie Robinson; and Bonnie and Chuck Neufeld.
Tour proceeds go to the Newton Public Library Foundation, an affiliate of Central Kansas Community Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to support Newton Public Library by increasing library resources available to the community.
“For a quarter century now, the annual garden tour has been a significant source of funding and support for the library,” said Dr. Cari Cusick, library director. “We appreciate the homeowners, expert gardeners, and devoted volunteers who have made the tour a mainstay of Newton’s summer calendar.”
Master gardeners will be stationed at each of the garden tour stops, ready to help visitors discover ideas for their own gardens, or simply appreciate the creativity of homeowners who have opened their spaces to the public.
About the Gardens
Angela and Larry Thompson, 2016 Briarwood Court, Newton
Angela and Larry Thompson have been creating their own family-friendly, backyard oasis since they built their home in 2008. Their yard has evolved over the years, and they continually add new trees, shrubs, grasses and flowering plants.
In 2015, Larry and his father, the late Larry Thompson, Sr., and Angela’s father, Bob Nattier, installed their swimming pool. Around the pool is a large, stamped-concrete patio area.
The Thompsons’ yard features a variety of large maple trees, a sycamore, arborvitae evergreen, dogwood, rosebud, two crepe myrtles, and a recently-added apple tree. The large rock beds include many perennials such as Rose of Sharon, Karl Foerster grass, maiden grass, butterfly bushes, moonbeam coreopsis, and many potted annuals.
During the warmer months of the year, you will often find the Thompson family and friends gathered poolside, grilling, socializing, and making memories.
Racquel Thiesen and Jason High, 1602 Hillcrest Road, Newton
The Thiesen-High garden isn’t about lush plants and colorful flowers. It isn’t meant to be pristine and untouched. Rather, it’s a place where city life and country living have always been neighbors.
The back yard features grand trees to take shade under and a grassy landscape to play in. In 2019-2020, a fire and water oasis was added, bringing the experience of a mountain stream into an outdoor living space.
An infinity-edge pool with two waterfalls, beautiful evening lighting and fire torches, along with a fireplace and brick pizza oven, create a retreat for all ages to enjoy in every season of the year. Juniper bushes, boxwoods and pampas grass keep the landscape natural-looking and low-maintenance all year.
The front yard includes a well-manicured lawn, shade-loving hostas, and natural stone edging to keep things tidy. “Some yards and gardens are about vegetables to taste and flowers to smell,” Racquel Thiesen said. “This one is about closing your eyes and basking in sunshine and the sounds of nature.”
Rich Stinnett and Charlie Robinson, 509 Normandy Road, Newton
Four years after their home on Fourth Street was part of the tour, Rich Stinnett and Charlie Robinson return with a new house, and a new garden. The pair have transformed their mid-century modern home and yard into a welcoming oasis for friends and neighbors.
Robinson has utilized the unusual sun/shade patterns of the back yard to the fullest. Perennial beds, with a focus on hostas, take center stage. There are more than 150 hosta varieties to be found, some received as gifts, others carefully researched and sourced.
Over the last few years, more than 1,200 spring bulbs of tulip and daffodil have also been planted to greet the early spring. Daylily, zinnia of various varieties, and sunflowers, are also tucked around the yard in beds and pots.
Art and sculpture blend with combination containers in whimsical ways. A mid-century modern fountain attracts neighborhood birds for a drink and a swim.
“We were excited to acquire two art pieces from the Newton Murals and Art Project to incorporate into fun potted plantings under the shaded awning sitting area,” Robinson said.
Bonnie and Chuck Neufeld, 405 E. 24th Street, North Newton
When Bonnie and Chuck Neufeld moved from Chicago to North Newton six years ago, the house they chose had been vacant for eight years, and the yard had been left in its natural state for many years before that. What grew naturally? Among other things, a lot of honeysuckle.
They removed most of the honeysuckle in the front, but embraced it in the back yard, trimming it up and making paths to create an understory. This wild space provides shelter for the birds the previous owner loved so much.
Since almost nothing of the old gardens remained, the Neufelds created new ones. The front yard now includes a stone walkway and sitting area under a large oak; boxwoods; and a perennial bed with plants from the gardens of many friends.
The back yard had no grass, so they created a winding mulch pathway from the newly-poured patio to the back fence, and began digging beds through very hard clay.
In addition to honeysuckle, the beds include many varieties of hostas and other shade perennials. Each year, the Neufelds add compost along with new plants. A deep layer of bark mulch conserves moisture and amends the soil.
Chuck designed the sitting space and created yard art with rebar and Osage orange disks. A cement tabletop he made sits over two stumps of dead trees that were removed.
“We are grateful for the gift of this space, and welcome folks to come enjoy it with us,” Bonnie said.
The Newton Public Library Foundation thanks the following sponsors who have generously supported the 2021 Newton & North Newton Garden Tour: Adrian & Pankratz, P.A., Anonymyous, The Citizens State Bank, Copies & More, Harvey County Master Gardeners, Heartland Credit Union, INTRUST Bank, Old Timers Clock Repair, Petersen Funeral Home, Pomeroy Group LLC, Stone Creek Nursery, Union State Bank, and White Eagle Credit Union.