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Archives for June 8, 2016

Lee’s front garden competition wins prize in national competition run by the RHS and the BBC

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Get a glimpse of landscape beauty

16-06-08 ARTS Garden Tour 2.jpg

Carol Harlig’s garden is described as a place of ‘living art.’ It will be on display on July 16 during the SBG Garden Tour.

Mary Wilson, Garden Tour chair

It gives people an opportunity to engage in the world of gardens and see places that are private.”

Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 4:00 am

Get a glimpse of landscape beauty


    A treehouse for adults, a Victorian-style greenhouse, a bird sanctuary and a robot lawnmower are some of the wonders that visitors will see at the 21st annual Sawtooth Botanical Garden Tour. This year’s tour, which will be held Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature six gardens in the north valley, from Dip Creek to the old North Fork Store.

    Each garden will have an artist and a musician on site to give the event more of a garden party feel, said Mary Wilson, chair of the garden tour. A few of the gardens will also have specially displayed table settings by various local businesses, to add to the party ambience.

    The six gardens in the tour were chosen for their beauty and diversity, Wilson said.

    “We look for water-wise gardens—that’s important because it’s also one of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden’s goals,” she said. “We like magnificent color and a lot of flowers. We always look for one or two ‘gardeners’ gardens’ that don’t look like they’re done by landscapers.”

    The garden brochure will also serve as a resource for garden help and landscape design by listing the names and companies that have contributed to the gardens on display.

    “This year, we’re focusing on six amazing gardens north of Ketchum that we believe will delight and amaze you,” wrote botanical garden Executive Director Kat Vanden Heuvel in a foreword to the garden tour brochure. “Despite the challenges of a short growing season, these gardens demonstrate a wide range of plantings, variety in landscaping and layouts that will have you eager to see what’s around the next bend. We hope you find ideas that you can try at home, or just take the day to immerse yourself in the splendor of these gardens, all the while knowing that your ticket supports the Sawtooth Botanical Garden in being an important resource to our community.”

    The Matthiesen Garden on Moose Lane features a classic Victorian greenhouse filled with orchids, geraniums and night-blooming jasmine. The Dawson Garden off state Highway 75 is an explosion of color with a profusion of snapdragons, Corsican violets and oriental poppies, among others. The Flanigan Garden showcases drought-tolerant flowers, grasses and shrubs and boasts a stream, a pond and a vegetable garden.

The Klahr and Melly Garden on Black Bear Road has a metal gate and fence designed by the owners that encloses the mature vegetable garden, a sculpture of a robin on a post and a “weather station” that records temperature and precipitation and automatically adjusts the irrigation system. The Griffith Garden on Eagle Creek Loop has a bridge over a creek and a treehouse that originated as a playhouse for the children but has become a sanctuary for the adults.

    The Harlig Garden on Highway 75 has an old-fashioned feel with meandering paths and garden rooms. It features a woodland bird garden, a water fountain, a trellised wall planted with sweet peas and a scrolled metal pergola.

“One of the reasons the garden tour is so special is it gives people an opportunity to engage in the world of gardens and see places that are private. It allows them to go places that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to go,” Wilson said.

She also noted that the garden tour is one of the major fundraisers for the nonprofit Sawtooth Botanical Garden, which offers a myriad of environmental programs for the community throughout the year.

Wilson said her goal is to sell 400 tickets and to raise $10,000. Advance discount tickets went on sale June 1. Cost is $20 for botanical garden members and $25 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at through Thursday, July 14. Tickets can be picked up at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden at 11 Gimlet Rd. or at a Will Call table at the Matthiesen Garden on the day of the event. The garden tour brochure and map can also be viewed on

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016 4:00 am.

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America in Bloom visiting Ironton to judge landscaping

Sports, theater, science, nature and more!

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Wauwatosa committee identifies Yards of Distinction, prepares for Secret Garden Tour

A Wauwatosa committee is on the hunt for local yards that make the city beautiful.

For at least the last 20 years, the city’s beautification committee has recognized a long list of residential and commercial properties across the community for their well-maintained yards. The selected properties are dubbed a Yard of Distinction and receive both a certificate and a yard sign.

This year’s winner’s also receive a 10 percent discount at Stein’s Garden Home, said Matt Stano of Stano Landscaping. Stano, who is leading this year’s selection process, said up to six commercial properties and up to three residences from each of the city’s eight districts are chosen as winners by committee members. The award helps contribute to the overall beautification of the city, Stano said.

“It’s there to encourage people to take care of their properties,” he said.

Sometimes committee members simply stumble upon an outstanding yard during their search, but more often they are found through nominations, he said. The selected homes are a blend of properties maintained by “do-it-yourselfers” and professionally landscaped work, Stano said.

Each home must meet the criteria created by the committee, which includes requirements such as: the lawn is generally weed free, fertilized and watered; the use of garden art is restrained and tasteful; and natural mulch is consistent and blends into landscaping, among many other things.

Some of the property owners are invited to have their yards considered for the Secret Garden Tour, also sponsored by the Wauwatosa Beautification Committee. The tour, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 this year, offers a chance to tour private gardens and the historic gardens at the Kneeland-Walker House, 7406 Hillcrest Drive.

Last year’s winners are:

Residential winners

District 1

· Jan and Jack Herbert, 7808 Warren Ave.

· Bill and Sandy Scallon, 7733 Stickney Ave.

District 2

· Bonni Doerr, 1904 N. 85th St.

· Ann Stevens and Gene Guszkowski, 1035 Laurel Court

District 3

· Richard Raymond, 8120 Red Arrow Court

District 4

· Kathryn Garvey, 6839 Auburn Ave.

· Sharon Eiff, 1417 Lombard Court

· Rich and Diana Pine, 1428 N. 66th St.

District 5

· Bob and Joan Bach, 2446 N. 70th St.

· Joely and Dale Olen, 2463 N. 66th St.

· Carol Grande, 2655 N. 66th St.

District 6

· Christel Prade, 2539 N. 97th St.

· Bill and Jennifer Wirostko, 2343 N. 91st St.

· Chris and Dawn Colla, 2364 N. 82nd St.

District 7

· Jan Nosse, 2345 N. 114th St.

· Bob and Corinne Frese, 12322 W. Walnut Road

· Christopher Guziewicz and Sebastian Pjacques, 1307 N. 123rd St.

District 8

· Rita and Scott Piper, 4536 N. 110th St.

· Mark and Molly Olson, 9912 W. Ruby Ave.

· Tom and Amy Johnson, 4556 N. 106th St.

Commercial winners

· Woodlake Business and Technology Center, 10101 W. Innovation Drive

· Rays Wine Spirits, 8930 W. North Ave.

· Red Dot, 6715 W. North Ave.

· Tower Optical, 2130 N. Mayfair Road

To submit a nomination, call (414) 899-3598. Selections are made by the end of July.

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Secret garden grows in unlikely setting

EAGAN, Minn. — Poor soil, scant sunlight and a small enclosed space hardly sounds like a recipe for an award-winning garden.

But that hasn’t stopped Stephanie and Fred Groth from creating one.

“We have very little to work with, but we’ve done the best we can,” said Stephanie of the secluded oasis in their Eagan backyard. “It’s our little sanctuary.”

Their garden isn’t visible from the street or the house next door. It’s their secret — a place where they can enjoy breakfast, a good book or a glass of wine, surrounded by flowers and lush foliage. It’s also where they relax with their family and friends during the outdoor season.

“After those bleak months of winter, it’s so nice to have color,” Stephanie said.


Stephanie and Fred Groth in their Eagan garden on an August evening. (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

There was no backyard garden when the Groths bought their house more than 20 years ago. In fact, there was barely a backyard. “It’s small with a lot of trees, and slopes steeply up at the back and sides — like being down in a little valley,” Fred said of the site.

The sunniest spot in the backyard was a patch of lawn in the corner at the top of a hill. “It was a useless little space,” recalled Stephanie. The couple’s sons, now grown, occasionally sunbathed there when they still lived at home. “But they had to lie at a tilt,” she recalled.

Maneuvering a lawn mower up and down the steep hill was “agonizing,” she added. One day, she decided there had to be a better use for the area. “I said, ‘This is so worthless!’ So my younger son and I dug it up, and I bought some plants.”

That improvement inspired the Groths to take things further and transform the spot into a more extensive garden. “We decided, ‘Let’s make this into something we can use and actually enjoy,’?” Fred said.

They enlisted a neighbor with a backhoe to excavate and hired another neighbor to build a curving stair up the hill and a small round patio at the top.

Then they set about adding as much vegetation and color as they could, adapting to overcome the obstacles presented by their site, starting with the soil. “We have terrible Eagan soil — red clay — I could make pottery out of it,” Stephanie said.

So they had a load of black dirt dumped in their driveway. The only way to transport it into the enclosed backyard was to hand-carry it in 5-gallon pails.

Stephanie took charge of garden design. “I had no plan. I just go to the nursery and grab. I like a lot of pink and white and blue,” she said.

Fred, who worked on a landscaping crew one summer after college, added hardscape. He built an arbor and a cedar-strip lattice at the back of the garden to support climbing plants. “I ad-libbed that, just to mask the [retaining wall],” he said. He also built a small pond to add the soothing sound of burbling water — and hand-picked Japanese beetles to control the pests without using chemicals. “I’m very concerned about bees,” Stephanie said.

Their two dogs, both rescue Labs, help with rabbit control.

“Before we had dogs, it was a rabbit resort — the rabbits were literally lying on their backs and having a delicious salad at our expense,” said Stephanie. “The dogs make a big difference.”


Over the years, the Groths have learned what works in their garden through trial and error. “We had to have roses. We both love them,” Fred said.

Stephanie took a class to learn the Minnesota tip method of burying hybrid tea roses to survive the winter. “We tipped the first few years, in front,” said Fred. But they lost a lot of roses, particularly during the polar vortex winter two years ago, and have had much better luck with hardy shrub roses. “Now we try to be more zone-conscious.”

They also tried growing tomatoes, without much success. “We have such limited sun,” Stephanie said. “We got giant plants that produced no fruit.”

Over the years, Stephanie also has honed her eye for garden design. She chooses plants with the aim of having something blooming all season long.

“A lot of plants that have vibrant color don’t grow in the shade,” she said. So she gets the color she craves using hardy perennials, including hydrangeas, tree peonies, lilies and honeysuckle vines, then augments with annuals such as begonias, impatiens and nasturtiums. “I love nasturtiums! I use them in cooking,” she said, adding the peppery leaves to salads and the bright blooms as a colorful garnish.

She also combines different greens and textures to create visual interest when flowers are scant.

“Thank goodness for hosta,” said Fred of the shade-loving foliage plant. Stephanie is not a big fan, however. “My goal is no hostas — they’re kind of boring,” she said. “But they’re good for adding different greens.”

The Groths love to travel and visit gardens for inspiration. A favorite is Butchart Gardens near Vancouver, British Columbia. “You feel like you’re closed in, with little garden rooms,” said Stephanie, an ambience they’ve tried to replicate in their garden, which feels cloistered and a bit mysterious — “like an adult fairy garden.”

The Chicago Botanical Gardens and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum are other inspirations. “We have such a wealth of resources here in the Twin Cities,” said Stephanie. “I’ve taken many pictures and tried to replicate. Unfortunately, not all of what we see we can do here, because it’s so shady.”

She also borrows ideas for garden decor, such as the giant outdoor chandelier that hangs from a tree. “I made it out of a tomato cage, then wrapped it with white Christmas lights and cheesy strings of Mardi Gras beads,” said Stephanie. The Groths had seen a similar chandelier, handmade by the hostess, at a summer solstice party. “I was so enamored, I copied it.”

The Groths’ secret garden is now mature but remains, like most gardens, a work in progress. “It’s never done,” said Stephanie. “That’s the fun of it. There’s always something more to do.”

Their heavy clay soil is a continuing challenge. “Every year, we amend the soil,” said Stephanie. “We add acid, sheep manure and mushroom compost.”

Fortunately, she’s come to love garden chores. “There’s nothing more relaxing than digging in the dirt — it feels so good,” she said.

Fred shares her enthusiasm — to a point. “We can’t wait to get going in the spring,” he said. “But by the end of summer, we’re kind of tired and ready for projects indoors.”

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Inch by inch, row by row, community activists made this garden grow –

The tomatoes have barely flowered, but the new Rice Street Community Garden can already boast a bountiful harvest of goodwill.

A year ago, weeds covered much of the northeast corner of Rice Street and Roselawn Avenue, just east over the St. Paul border in Maplewood. This spring, through the effort of volunteers and a St. Paul church, the large lot ringed by cottonwood trees is neatly divided into 230 plots planted with potatoes, chard, tomatoes, herbs and vegetables as varied as the people who planted them.

Now the goals of reclaiming unused urban land, growing food and building neighborhoods are being met.

On a warm early summer evening, recent Karen refugees from southeast Asia tend chilies alongside church kids who built a trellis of tree branches for climbing beans. A group of 3M employees have taken over the eastern plots, and raised planting beds are getting built for people in wheelchairs.

The new garden is among the newest and largest of about 550 community gardens in the Twin Cities, according to Minneapolis-based nonprofit Gardening Matters, which was founded several years ago as an advocacy group and clearinghouse. In five years, the number of community gardens in the Twin Cities has nearly doubled, said Executive Director Susan Phillips.

“I think people are increasingly interested in food system issues and growing their own vegetables,” she said. “And doing it in a community context where they can build relationships with their neighbors.”


The roots of Rice Street Gardens lie in Katheryn Schneider’s driving patterns. A former project manager with Wells Fargo, Schneider quit her job a few years ago to devote herself to environmental activism. She regularly drives up Rice Street from her St. Paul home and noticed when some greenhouses were torn down.

“Everywhere I drive and see vacant land I think oh, ‘we should be growing food there!’ ” Schneider said. After a for-sale sign appeared and then disappeared, she discovered the land had been purchased by St. Paul Regional Water Services, which runs the McCarrons water treatment plant just south of Roselawn Avenue. The water department bought the entire parcel north of Roselawn for $2.5 million, including wetlands and a former nursery. It has no immediate expansion plans, so the water board is allowing the gardeners to use two acres behind McCarron’s Pub and Grill for at least two years, free of charge.

Schneider found garden allies haphazardly, like a gourd spreading vines in all directions. Across the street, Galilee Lutheran Church was considering putting a community garden on its property. Dozens of congregations in the Twin Cities have turned their lawns into garden space for recent refugees, but some Galilee members weren’t ready to give up their landscaping.

“So this was perfect,” said longtime Galilee member Ron Peterson, a retired Honeywell executive from Shoreview. Galilee became the garden’s fiscal agent, and Peterson has donated money and countless hours to the effort.

“I don’t garden,” he said. “I knew nothing about vegetables. But it’s a super fun project and really good for my health.”

Peterson mowed paths for eight hours on a recent weekday, and earlier this spring mapped each 16×20 plot with satellite computer images. He hit five Menards stores to buy 500 stakes and then plotted the garden with a handful of helpers and big balls of twine.


A third key volunteer got involved in the hope of resolving friction between Minnesota’s newest wave of refugees from southeast Asia and longtime Roseville homeowners. Sherry Sanders is president of the Lake McCarron’s Neighborhood Association in Roseville. She had spent fruitless months on a city task force charged with finding a site for a community garden near apartment buildings at Larpenteur Avenue and Rice Street, where many Karen refugees have settled.

“The Karen come from place of survival where they’re used to hunting and foraging for food,” said Sanders. “They’re going into some people’s yards and harvesting perennials and vegetables to eat.”

She hopes the garden gives Karen families a place to grow food and nurtures tolerance. “There are lots of people in the community who don’t appreciate these different faces moving into our community,” she said. “I believe if they could learn more about these new people they could be more willing to accept them.”

Over the past 12 months, Schneider, Peterson and Sanders convinced the city of Maplewood to grant the garden a conditional use permit. They contacted refugee resettlement agencies, signed up gardeners and ran orientation meetings. Schneider wanted to hand dig trenches for the water lines, but they ended up following Peterson’s advice and hired a contractor to run underground hoses to a half dozen water tanks scattered around the garden.

McCarron’s Pub is letting the garden use water from its well for free. The city of Roseville drops off compost every Friday. Volunteers tracked down tools and lawn mowers on Craig’s List and held workdays to clear weeds and concrete rubble.

“None of us work,” laughed Schneider. “We could never have gotten this done if we’d had jobs.”  None of the three are actually gardening at Rice Street Gardens either. “Oh gosh no,” said Schneider. “We have way too much work to do.”

“And we have our own yards,” added Sanders. “We wouldn’t want to take a spot from a family that wanted to get in.”


On a recent warm evening, Saw Wah and Naw Eh Eh were planting tomatoes, peppers and cabbage in long hills of dark soil, just like their grandparents had farmed in Burma.

“This makes me feel so good,” said Naw Eh Eh, testing out the English he’s learning. “I make new friends. We help each other.”  He held a sleeping toddler on his shoulder while his wife attacked thistles with a trowel. Speaking through an interpreter, he explained that they had arrived in Minnesota a few months ago from a refugee camp in Malaysia. He heard about the garden from a caseworker at the resettlement agency International Institute of Minnesota in St. Paul. After surviving the isolation of their first Minnesota winter, they were happy to get outside.

Nearby, in a plot half shaded from the evening sun by cottonwood trees, Patricia Rieger of St. Paul was planting potatoes in wood boxes, just like her grandmother had planted them. She also had cucumbers, chard, catnip, Thai basil and rosemary.

“And we went nuts on heirloom tomatoes,” said Rieger. She is gardening with Kathy Thomas, who she met last year in an alcohol treatment program.

“We needed a sober project,” said Rieger. She works during the school year as a chef at a sorority and sports a chef’s knife tattoo on her left forearm. “Gardening has been a big part of my life. And Kathy loves food.”

“Not to be hokey, but it symbolizes our growth,” said Thomas, as she watered limp tomatoes. Thomas left her job as a financial officer at an architectural firm “looking for a much a simpler life,” and both women were already enjoying the camaraderie of the garden.

“Even seeing how different ethnic groups build their gardens is so interesting,” said Rieger. “Some people mound the soil. Some trench. I can’t wait to see the different foods everyone grows. I think we can learn so much from each other.”

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Gardening Tips: A tour through the garden

Now is a good time to take a notebook out with you and take a tour of your property. You have most likely finished the first to-do list you made in early April, so it is the perfect time to re-assess and jot down some notes what needs to be done next.

The much welcomed rain has resulted in a flurry of growth; both wanted and unwanted! My list includes doing another round of weeding. It is a good time to get this under control. Once the perennials, shrubs and annuals fill out, the weeds will have less space to take hold. From then on, you can easily pull the few weeds that emerge between them.

Remember to get the entire weed, root and all, so they won’t grow back. Also make a point of getting weeds out before they go to seed! That will save a lot work later on.

It’s time to prune the trees and shrubs that weren’t done in early spring before new growth began. Spring flowering shrubs and lilacs should be pruned right after flowering.

Evergreens such as cedar, yew, spruce, hemlock, juniper and balsam are all pruned as soon as the new growth has finished extending out. You can take off one third to one half of this spring’s growth to keep plants tidy. New buds for next season will form all along the growth you leave behind.

Hopefully you pruned your Mugho pines when the new growth looked like a candle. If you haven’t pruned your pines yet, do it right away! You can take off 1/2 to 2/3 of the candle length to keep shrubs compact.

Pine trees and pine shrubs only form buds for next year’s growth on the very tip of the new shoots. If pruned now, there still should be time for them to form new buds.

New growth Spruce. Photo provided

Not quite sure how pine and spruce grow differently? Take a close look at their stems. You will see how pine only extend out from tips of branches but spruce branch out all down the stems.

Maples weren’t pruned in spring as new wounds bleed too much as sap runs. Now is a good time to do any corrective work required.

Broadleaf evergreens such as boxwood, euonymus, cotoneaster and holly can be pruned now that spring growth has finished. If necessary, they can be done again in late July. Same goes for cedar, yews and other hedges that you are trying to keep shaped well.

It is a bit late to prune summer flowering shrubs such as spirea. You will be delaying their bloom. Clip them after they finish flowering.

Since warm spring temperatures and much needed rain arrived, plants are really flourishing. They will need nutrients to keep them growing well through summer heat. Use a good quality organic fertilizer suited to the plants you grow. Broadcast it throughout the gardens, turn it in to the soil if you are able, and water well.

There are formulas specific to annuals and perennials; trees and shrubs; roses and clematis. If you have a lot of different plants to feed, you can also just choose a good quality all purpose food.

If you prefer to use water soluble fertilizer, be sure to choose the right type for your plants and follow directions carefully. Mixing it too strong can burn leaf and root tissue. It is better to mix fertilizer one half strength and apply it every two weeks. That way, plants get a regular even feeding with a mild solution.

This fertilization method is particular helpful for annuals in gardens, baskets and containers. We demand a lot from our flowers! Frequent feedings with this weaker solution helps plants flourish. I use a formulation for flowering plants (20-8-20) mixed 1/4 strength and apply it every week. My flowers stay healthy right through to the fall.

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