If you go
What: 15th Strings Kitchen and Garden Tour
When: All day Saturday; meet at Strings Park for breakfast, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Cost: Tickets are $25 for all ages. Tickets for the VIP van tour are $65. They are available through Strings Music Festival at www.stringsmusicfestival.com
Steamboat Springs The drenching thunderstorms that rumbled through the Yampa Valley last week were a blessing to Linda Cantway.
She and her husband, Don, keep livestock watering troughs beneath their downspouts to collect moisture to sustain the hundreds of trees and shrubs on their property in Country Green south of Steamboat.
“We don’t have an irrigation system,” Linda Cantway said. “We’ve planted 220 shrubs and trees from seedlings, and I water them by hand. I don’t water the flowers and the grass. The flowers live where they live.”
The Cantway home is among eight on the 15th annual Strings Kitchen and Garden Tour on Saturday, which benefits the Strings Music Festival. And don’t be misled, all of the homes on the tour have beautiful flowers, the Cantways’ included.
Susie Frasier, secretary of the Strings Guild Board of Directors, will serve as house captain at the Cantway residence this year, helping to ensure that guests’ questions are answered.
“We have master gardeners at each home and another on the VIP bus,” Frasier said. “They can identify plants, tell you which plants are indigenous” and what they need to flourish in the Yampa Valley’s short growing season.
The Cantway property, with its fenced vegetable garden, shady outdoor seating area overlooking the South Valley and intriguing geodesic greenhouse, is emblematic of an emerging green theme in the annual event.
Sag wagons on hand
For the first time, Ch Loe Lawrence said, a significant effort is being undertaken this year to make the tour bicycle friendly. She is second vice president of the Strings Guild.
The home tour covers a mildly ambitious route climbing into Catamount Ranch and Country Green, so bicycle support is offered — including a ride back to the parking lot. Participants still may choose their favorite way to enjoy the tour, such as a self-guided automobile option and a VIP van tour.
“We’re really excited to offer the bicycle option,” Lawrence said.
The tour begins at Strings Park with a light breakfast. Participants are given a location map and descriptions of the homes with their tickets. The Strings Guild silent auction also closes at 9:30 a.m. It’s an opportunity to bid on a custom cruiser bike or a master music lesson from one of Strings’ professional musicians.
In addition to the Cantways, homes and their owners in this year’s tour are Mary Ann and Butch Casey in Tree Haus; Cami and Paul Bunn, McKinnis Creek; Jan and Michael Gasser, Catamount Ranch and Club; Jennifer and Rudi Frank, The Sanctuary; Claudia and Bob Dausman, The Sanctuary; Cathy Borland, Yahmonite Street in Old Town, and Nancy and Lynn Kramer, also in Old Town on Crawford Avenue.
The kitchens on view range from a European-inspired farmhouse with its own fireplace to a brightly colored kitchen reflecting the influence of a collection of Navajo rugs. The gardens will include herb and native plant beds, sculptural features, colorful perennial gardens and water-wise features.
Squash under the dome
Is it possible that an efficient greenhouse in the shape of a geodesic dome greenhouse could become the new standard of luxury on the grounds of Steamboat’s finest homes? The Cantways aren’t much for status symbols — they’ve been giving back to the earth on their acreage in Country Green since 1976. But the tangible benefits already are evident this summer in the greenhouse where the first tomato already is beginning to ripen and the squash and pumpkin vines are blooming in profusion.
Cantway devoted enough to nurturing seedling trees she obtains from conservation organizations that she uses a movable livestock corral to protect the newest additions from wintering elk herds. Because she uses an unusually long garden hose to irrigate her plants, she has come up with a practical solution to administering just the amount of water each plant requires on a weekly and monthly basis.
“When you have 900 feet of hose, you get a different flow (at increasing distances from the hose bib). That’s why you’ll see buckets near every plant. And everything is mulched. That’s the point I want to get across. You can have healthy plants without using as much water.”
Frasier said the tour presents an opportunity for everyone to experience some of the nicest homes in the valley without having to engage a Realtor under false pretenses. She encouraged anyone interested in having his or her home considered for a future tour to call Lawrence at 879-7980.
“We’d like to hear from them now so we can see what their garden looks like in midsummer,” she said.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org