This week I’ve had the opportunity to visit three stunning private gardens in the Twin Cities. Each of these gardens is on a city lot (although large ones) and is primarily tended by the homeowners. While each is glorious, the gardens had very different ambiance and show how the owners’ personalities come through in long-tended gardens. One thing that all three had in common, however, was a sturdy fence around the perimeter. Bunnies, deer and other critters are kept out.
'Claude Shride' lily
A Scientist’s Garden
The first garden I visited is owned by a gentleman who loves martagon lilies and does a great deal of hybridizing. His large, shaded and hilly lot backs up to a pond. Amid the many beds of shade plants were the stars of the show, the lilies he studies, photographs, and breeds. His use of rock throughout the garden gives it real backbone and makes the garden interesting year-round.
Formal in the City
Yesterday I visited this garden in St. Paul. It’s owners take meticulous care of the many carefully designed beds. They mulch with only two things: pine needles and oak leaves. The smell of the garden with its roses, lilies, and that marvelous mulch is intoxicating. While the garden has curving beds and an impressive vegetable garden, its formal room was especially beautiful, symmetrical yet varied, formal but inviting. It also features a hidden gazebo, where the homeowners enjoy the many birds that make a home in the garden.
The last garden I visited was in my hometown, Roseville. This large suburban lot has everything: beautiful conifers, undulating perennial beds, rock gardens, a charming shed, and a continually changing palette of color and blooms. This garden looks beautiful from May to October. The homeowners (the husband says it’s mostly his wife’s talent) have an artisitc sensibility that shows in how everything in the garden is arranged and displayed.
After visiting these gardens, I’m excited about this weekend’s Northfield Garden Club tour, where six Northfield gardens will be open to visitors. See the Northfield News article for more information.
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Library board chair Margit Johnson deals with some winter damage on shrub.
This afternoon about a dozen Friends of the Northfield Public Library spent a few hours weeding the flower beds, planting, trimming shrubs, raking, and just plain sprucing up the area outside of the library. This comes on top of a pile of planting and designing of landscaped areas that has already been done by Judy Code and the folks from Northfield in Bloom. The big pot at right features the Northfield in Bloom colors — kind of a retro-60s look — outside the library’s Washington Street door. It was a little windy and all the gardeners were hoping for rain tonight, but all in all a great time gardening in public.
By the way, if you still want to order seeds, the Friends’ seed fundraiser is an ongoing event. Just click the Botanical Interests box in the right sidebar to help the Friends.
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Posted in Northfield, Trees on April 22, 2009 |
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In honor of Earth Day, the Northfield News ran several articles on its Green Living page by members of the city Environmental Quality Commission. I’m not on the commission but am a member of a group advising the EQC on tree issues and was happy to contribute a piece on placing trees to save energy.
As I was researching the story, it struck me that there are a couple of trees in my yard I’d like to move just a hair — but it’s too late for that! One of the goals of the EQC is to encourage city residents to build the tree canopy — that layer of mature trees that shades streets and yards, reduces pollution, and just generally makes a community a more pleasant place to live. While fall is a great time to plant trees, spring is fine, too, as long as you water new trees as recommended.
Not all of the Green Living articles are online, so pick up a copy of today’s paper, if you would like to read more about water conservation, the benefits of awnings, and ways to make your yard more environmentally friendly.
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For 14 years, the Garden Writers Association has asked its members and other active gardeners to Plant a Row for the Hungry. The idea is simple: When planning your vegetable garden, plant more than your family can eat and donate the excess produce to a local food shelf or soup kitchen. This seems like the perfect time for more people to embrace this idea.
As a result of the current economic situation, the number of visits to Minnesota food shelves rose to about 2 million in 2008. In addition to concerns about not having enough food, many people who are struggling economically resort to low-quality food because it is cheap. Unfortunately, a large percentage of food shelf users are children.
Plant a Row is a simple program. Grow the food, then check with your local food shelf about when and where to drop it off. Northern Gardener columnist Terry Yockey has been promoting this program in Red Wing for several years. Last year, gardeners in her area contributed about 100 pounds of fresh produce per week to their local food shelf. I checked with the Northfield food shelf staff at the Community Action Center and was told they love to get donations of fresh produce! Several area farmers and gardeners already bring in some produce, but use of the food shelf is rising — 400 families (about 1,200 people, most of them children) in Northfield are using it now. This year when you plant your garden, please put in a little extra for the food shelf.
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Griff Wigley over at Locally Grown Northfield has had it with cold weather. (Haven’t we all!) So, he’s put out a call for signs of spring. I spent a little time working in the yard today and came up with three more.
First, the sedum are showing their little cabbage-like leaves. These come up early in the spring before the plant develops a stem. This is Sedum ‘Maestro’ from my front yard garden.
Sign number 2: Buds on the cherry tree! This little ‘Bali’ cherry is starting its third season in our yard and is covered with buds. Who knows — we may even get cherries this year.
Sign number 3 — but not necessarily a good one: Those wrascally wabbits are munching things all over my garden! This is a shot of what they did to some of the squill (Scilla siberica) but I could have also taken photos of munched on rhododendrons or roses just as well. Clearly, fencing will be in order for any vegetable gardens this year.
Hope that cheers you up, Griff!
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As parts of Minnesota recover from a March blizzard and the rest of us wonder why the temperatures are more like January than March, it’s good to have something to look forward to — such as a weekend packed with garden activities. March is the month of classes and hort days in Minnesota.
Saturday I’ll be attending the Rice County Horticulture Day at Buntrock Commons at St. Olaf College. The program includes talks on Shrub Roses for Minnesota by Kathy Zuzek, Herb Gardening and Cooking with Theresa Mieseler, How to Attract Hummingbirds presented by Donald Mitchell, and Garden Photography with John Maciejny, whose photographs have appeared in Northern Gardener many times. There will also be a book signing by How to Shrink Your Lawn author Evelyn Hadden. Sounds like a great event.
Saturday night, I’ll take a break from garden events and head over to the Northfield High School‘s production of Rock ‘N Roll Revival, featuring my daughter (in cat glasses!) and 100-plus other high school singers, dancers and musicians. This is the third RRR in which my daughters have participated and I’m always impressed by the quality of the performance — and the hard work that goes into it.
Sunday, I’ll be heading to the Plant Society Day at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights. If you have a special interest in daffodils, bonsai, mushrooms, roses or any of nearly a dozen specialties, this is the place to learn about them. From 1 to 4 p.m., there will be displays and mini-demonstrations. Here are the groups scheduled to be presenting:
An impressive list! Many of these groups have classes, shows and other events. They all have informative web sites as well. If you are interested, check them out…or stop by Gertens on Sunday.
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How great is this: Buy your spring seeds from a company that sells organic, heirloom, non-GMO seed and support the Friends of the Northfield Public Library at the same time. As a reader, gardener, and long-time library lover–I can’t think of a better fundraiser.
This year, the Friends’ annual meeting will feature Lynn Steiner, one of the Upper Midwest’s top authorities on native plants. She’ll be talking about Landscaping with Native Plants at the Friends’ annual meeting starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at the library. In her talk, Lynn will point out the beauty and diversity found in Minnesota’s native plant heritage and will show how to use native plants in your landscape and garden. The talk will feature plenty of inspirational photos and practical information on selecting and using plants.
In honor of Lynn’s talk, the Friends wanted to do a garden-themed fundraiser. Then we heard about Botanical Interest Seeds, a Colorado company that sells seeds in wonderfully illustrated and informative packets. They offer many heirloom and organic seeds and seeds for flowers and vegetables. I bought several large packets earlier this year — I’m going to be reseeding my wildflower area — and really liked the information they have on the package. I’m looking forward to planting them.
To support the Friends, just click on the image link above. Botanical Interests will donate 25 percent of your order value back to the Friends. If you are not familiar with what the Friends do, check out the web site — or, go upstairs at the library and check out the new business and job search area or the redesigned teen area or watch old Booker the book bus rolling around town. Those are all Friends’ projects to support the library and literacy in Northfield.
We hope to have a huge crowd for Lynn’s talk. But whether you make it or not, check out the seed offer.
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Cute scarecrow at the Greenvale Community Garden.
I sat in on Just Food Co-op’s first of two classes on vegetable gardening last night. Conducted by Laura Frerichs, co-owner of Loon Organics, the class covered the basics of getting started with a vegetable garden, from picking a sunny spot (a must) to prepping the soil (healthy soil = healthy plants) to using row covers to extend the season. The room was packed and the crowd looked to be a mix of experienced gardeners and beginners.
Here are three new things I learned at the presentation:
- The best time to weed is before the weeds emerge. If you turn over your soil with a hoe, you may notice little “white hairs.” These are weeds-to-be. Expose them to air and sun and they die, saving you lots of trouble down the road,
- Consider investing in a soil thermometer. I don’t have one of these, but plan to pick one up. Lettuce, spinach, chard and other cool season crops can be planted when the soil temperature is as low as 45 degrees F, and like being planted before soils temps get into the 60s. In contrast, beans, tomato starts and other warm season crops, don’t want to be planted until the soil is near the 70s.
- I’ve always been a little confused by “days to harvest” listings on seed packets and Laura offered a clarification. Here’s the scoop: For cool season crops that you direct seed in the garden, the days to harvest means days from planting the seed. However, for warm season crops that need to be started indoors or purchased as plant starts (something Laura recommends for beginning gardeners), the days to harvest means the number of days from the date of transplant. She advises northern gardeners to look at those days carefully. If a melon takes 110 or 120 days to produce edible fruit, and you cannot get the plant start in the ground until June 1 — well, you know what your odds are.
This is the first of two gardening classes the co-op is offering. Next Thursday (Jan. 29), Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty of Open Hands Farm will lead a discussion of “What to Plant,” beginning at 5 p.m. in the co-op meeting room. Ben and Erin produce wonderful organic vegetables and a knock-your-socks-off salad mix that they sell at the Northfield Farmers’ Market. Should be a great event.
If you don’t live in Northfield, check out the MSHS calendar for other vegetable gardening classes.
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During the recent America in Bloom competition, this sculpture was installed at the Northfield Public Library. Made by artist Jennifer Wolcott, the steel sculpture has the working title of Bookheads Dancing. In creating the piece, Wolcott walked all around the library looking for the right place to put the sculpture, and settled on this shady hosta garden near the Washington Street entry.
Placing art in a garden is tricky. It needs to complement the garden around it, without overwhelming the garden or being so small that the garden obscures the art. In a northern climate like ours, the art will be a dominant view in the garden for several months of the year. [While taking photos of the Wolcott piece, I found myself wishing (horrors!) that it were January so the sculpture would stand out more.] What I like about the Wolcott piece is it has many places for snow to rest, allowing the view of the work to change as seasons progress. This is a piece viewers would find intriguing even after it had been in place many years.
Northfield Note: I’m a member of the board of the Friends of the Library, which last night decided to offer partial funding for the purchase and permanent installation of the Wolcott sculpture. Others in the community are looking for additional support for the sculpture. If you would like to assist in funding the sculpture, contact Lynne Young at the library.
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