Raymond Village Garden Tour organizers, from left, are Elissa Gifford, originator of event and operations head; Sally Holt, Raymond Village Library director; and Steering Committee head Kim Paterson Manoush.
Gardening enthusiasts are invited to tour 11 private gardens in Raymond on Saturday and to talk with garden designers about their creative processes in cultivating those spaces.
It's all part of the premiere Raymond Garden Tour, a self-guided outing being held to raise money benefiting the Raymond Village Library's general operating fund.
Elissa Gifford, a library trustee, master gardener, member of the Hawthorne Garden Club and the chairperson of the garden tour's operations committee, said the event was nearly a year and a half in the planning.
"Some people volunteered tours of their gardens, including three of our own garden club members, and we also spent some time touring other gardens to be considered as part of the group, which was fun," said Gifford.
"The gardens we selected represent a very eclectic mix of styles and sizes -- from cottage style gardens to those with interesting landscape elements."
Most of the gardens are in Raymond.
One garden is comprised of different stone wall structures, erected by a Raymond woman whose designs are based on an old art form she learned from her mother decades ago.
Another garden, in Casco, is set in a bog and draws attention to the natural aesthetics of the grounds by adding little pathways and bridges that meander through the plot.
"We chose the gardens based on their close proximity to the library and each other, as well as for their ease of accessibility and parking and for their unique features," said Gifford. "There is one cluster of little gardens, located on Panther Pond, that feature 40-foot garden lots, facing the lake, that are just amazing. They are an interesting example of how the owners of lakeside properties are managing erosion and run-off issues."
The tour unfolds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., allowing attendees to purchase their tickets (that come with a brochure and map documenting the individual properties) and proceed at their own pace.
"It would probably take about four hours to view all of these gardens but folks are encouraged to visit a few of them, take a break for lunch at one of several businesses nearby, and then continue the tour," said Gifford.
Advance tickets are $15 each and available at the library, the Raymond Village Florist on Route 302 (cash or checks accepted) or online at raymondvillagelibrary.org.
And, attendees are encouraged to save room for dessert.
Following the tour, the historic Hawthorne House will host its Annual Strawberry Festival at 3:30 p.m., featuring a a homemade strawberry shortcake dessert and a talk by "The Inspired Garden" author Judy Paolini.
Cost for the dessert and talk is a suggested $10 for adults and $5 for children, and reservations are strongly encouraged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 655-7660.
As an added attraction, raffle tickets are being sold for the chance to win an original painting, donated by local artist Donna Kantor.
The concept of the off-site event harkens back to the library's humble beginnings in the early 1900s when its collections were broken up and housed in the front parlors and hallways of individual members homes, inviting patrons to drop by in search of new discoveries via books.
Over the past century, the library has taken on several new identities and different locations before moving into its present home at 3 Meadow Road in Raymond.
The library became a non-profit in 2003 and is responsible for raising roughly half of its approximately $72,000 annual operating budget.
According to library director Sally Holt, that is achieved by holding several fundraisers each year.
"They help to support the work of the library, from building upkeep and programming to adding to our collections," said Holt. "We are hoping this premiere garden tour will become one of our major fundraisers."
And, since June is Garden Month in Raymond, the tour was advanced by a series of talks by gardening experts.
"There has been a very proud heritage here from the library's beginnings," said Holt. "It was founded by townspeople and is a true village library that offers a very welcoming atmosphere. It's also very popular with summer visitors. Our numbers triple during summer months."
For more details, call Holt at 655-4283.
Staff Writer Deborah Sayer can be contacted at 791-6308 or at: