Walking into the Anglers Retreat cul-de-sac, it's easy to forget that downtown is two minutes away. The cul-de-sac is protected from the bustling crowds by towering trees, babbling brooks and bountiful foliage that surround the homes there.
That's what this year's High Country Garden Tour is all about: experiencing some of the most beautiful gardens Steamboat Springs has to offer.
"There really are a lot of gardens to choose from in this town," Garden Tour chairwoman Linda Fisher-Faiola said. The tour is presented by the Guild of Strings in the Mountains.
The Garden Tour has been a staple in the Steamboat community for 10 years. People wait all year for the event, eager for inspiration about how to spend their precious 59 growing days, Fisher-Faiola said.
"People really make the most of the time they have with their gardens," she said.
This year's tour features 11 houses, the most the tour has shown. Six of the homes are in Anglers Retreat, at Anglers and Rollingstone drives.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $28 on Saturday, the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased before the day of the event at the Strings box office, All That Jazz, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Windemere Landscape and Garden Center, and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. Tickets can be purchased the day of the event at the Strings tent.
New this year is a catered lunch, included in the price of the ticket, that will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the back yard of Marne and Mike Roberts' home, which is one of the featured gardens.
The event begins at 9 a.m. at the Strings tent with free coffee and a speech by David Whiting, a Colorado State University professor and horticulture specialist. A garden market featuring several garden vendors and products will be open from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.
The tour is self-guided. Participants are given a map to the homes and are free to start and end wherever they choose, Fisher-Faiola said.
"We wanted to keep everything close so people didn't have to drive all over Steamboat," she said.
Fisher-Faiola, whose garden was featured on the tour two years ago, began planning this year's tour in September.
"It is quite challenging finding gardens for the tour. I keep my eye out all year," she said. "It's like planning a wedding."
Fisher-Faiola found most of the gardens featured this year while shopping at garage sales and admiring their yards.
"Most people are very flattered when you contact them about their gardens," she said.
Fisher-Faiola said about 650 people usually come to the event, and she hopes that number is even higher this year. Guild members plan to conduct a survey this year in hopes of finding where people are coming from to determine whether the first weekend in July is appropriate for the tour.
"If it's mostly locals, we should have it this week, when everything is in bloom," she said.
Most of the gardens on the tour feature the same plants -- columbines, poppies, wild roses, irises, lilies and bleeding hearts, for example -- because those plants do well in Steamboat's climate.
"They're all the same plants but it's fun to see how differently they are planted and used," Fisher-Faiola said.
Each of the gardens will feature a musician who will play throughout the day to accompany the sights. Community volunteers will be stationed at each garden to help guide people and answer questions. Routt County master gardeners will be on hand to answer more technical or plant-related questions.
"It'll be a great day for anybody who wants to come out and enjoy the beautiful gardens around us," she said.