Annual Garden Tour Fundraising Event

2011 Annual Garden Tour Fundraiser Event for Fraser

My daughter invited me to attend an annual garden tour fundraising event put on by the organization that she works for. There is never any convincing needed to get me to go along on a garden tour, and I’m especially glad I didn’t miss out on this one. It was a wonderful opportunity to see beautiful private backyard gardens, while contributing to a very worthwhile cause. Fraser is a non-profit organization that offers support and care for children and families that have been affected by autism.

There were 12 gardens on the tour this year, all of them located in St. Paul, Minnesota. We didn’t get started until afternoon, but were still able to take in five of the gardens before the garden tour ended. We were treated to a beautifully landscaped backyard living space at the first home, complete with an En plien air artist.

En Plein Air Artist creating a beautiful painting in acrylic
A Black-Eyed Susan is the inspiration for this artwork

The objct d' art

A babbling water feature offers a cool, refreshing centerpiece in this garden.

The second stop featured gardens that placed third in the 2007 Saint Paul Blooming Gardens Awards and includes perennials and annuals arranged into formal gardens. Included in the setting is a retaining wall garden and a large fountain centered between pathways made of pavers and walls of vegetation.
Veriegated Hostas, astilbe and impatiens are cool and comfy in the shade

White picket fence and arbor invited us to stroll through the outdoor garden rooms.

Pink roses are fragrantly sweet, attracting honeybees and hummingbirds.

Stone steps take us to another outdoor garden room, a perfect place to relax and share a cool beverage in the summer heat.

Roses enhance the black wrought-iron gate.

The third stop was a family garden that included annuals, perennials, and herbs. The front sloping yard is landscaped with a dry stream bed and rain garden for environmentally friendly water drainage.
Through the Garden Gate
The Pathway Leads Through a Wooden Garden Gate

Mixing herbs and vegetables into the landscape are a practical method of gardening.

what is a river bed
Dry stream bed prevents erosion by directing excess water runoff.

Our fourth stop was at the 1889 Victorian home of co-owner of Tangletown gardens who displays his artistic abilities and green thumb on a flourishing garden canvas.

Tangletown Gardens Minneapolis Minnesota
Artist and co-owner of Tangletown Gardens maintains a living space that is like no other.

Garden Path
A lush variety of greenery decorate the garden path.

Large Koi swim through the channel of water back and forth to a larger pool of water.

Koi Pond
Large Koi Fish add to the feeling of a tropical garden.

water plants
The contrasting colors of foliage and ceramic pots work really well together.

mother & daughter
My daughter took advantage of the many photo opportunities too.

The final stop of our tour was the St. Paul Hotel English cottage-style gardens which have been maintained by a full-time gardener since 1994. The gardens include hundreds of summer annuals, topiary trees and tree roses.
rain garden
A terraced garden around a city drain doubles as a rain garden, filtering run-off before it enters the city drain system.

plant a garden
Flower gardens include annuals to add color and summer blooming perennials along the walkways.

Saint Paul Minnesota
Saint Paul Grill street entrance

The scent of Summer Phlox drifts through the air and reminds me of my grandma's vast garden flowers.

pictures of flowers ferns tulips
A collection of annual flowers adorn the entrance to the grand Saint Paul Hotel.

Sweet Asylum make a perfect edge to the gardens bursting with color.

This ended the annual garden tour and it was time for a cool refreshment of fresh squeezed lemonade and peach, berry cobbler. We are already looking forward to next year when we will get an early start so we can take in all of the gardens on the tour.

Trip to Tangletown Gardens

Farm Fresh Produce Delivered Daily
Farm Fresh Produce & Eggs Available Daily

In the middle of the Tangletown neighborhood in south Minneapolis, you’ll find a garden oasis that tempts all of the senses.  Tangletown Gardens offers lush greenery of all types including succulents, perennials, annuals, heirloom, and water plants.  I strolled through the expansive outside area and found a massive display of lush, healthy hostas in both miniature and giant sizes.

Hostas Are Lush and Healthy
Large Variety of Hostas Are Lush and Healthy

You’ll find garden accessories including furniture, garden art, pots, wind chimes and pretty much anything you need to decorate your gardens.

Succulents and Patio Chairs
Statues, Succulents and Chairs

All of the plants were healthy and lush, even in the 90 degree temps.  The hydrangea below almost convinced me to take it home with me.

Endless Summer Hydrangea
Endless Summer Hydrangea

The water gardens in the back add to the sense that you’ve found a hidden garden oasis in the middle of the busy city.

Soothing Waterfall in the Water Garden
Soothing Waterfall in the Water Garden

Water lilies, water hyacinth, and water lettuce are just a few of the plants available for water gardens.  The water lilies were in bloom with beautiful yellow flowers.

Yes, my walk through the pathways was very refreshing, even in the hot summer afternoon heat.  The shop has plenty to see too.  I purchased several packets of flower seeds including Butterfly Bush, Delphinium, and Lobelia which I planted in the whisky barrel, after harvesting this year’s crop of red potatoes.

One of the coolest things about Tangletown Gardens is the fact that they sell organic produce that is grown on their farm in Plato, MN.  They have a program  called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where you can purchase shares of seasonal produce throughout the summer months.  Shares are delivered from the farm to the Tangletown shop for customers to pickup weekly.

They also sell organic produce directly to consumers who don’t participate in the CSA program.

Farm Fresh Produce Available for Purchase
Farm Fresh Produce Available for Purchase

All of the produce is grown using sustainable farming methods, meaning no artificial herbicides or pesticides are applied.  Only natural methods for controlling pests and weeds, and natural fertilizers are used. I purchased some zuchini and summer squash, since I don’t have either growing in my garden this year.  I sliced it diagonally, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with freshly chopped basil and Old Bay seasoning and grilled it along with shrimp on skewers. It was mouth-wateringly delicious.

This was my first visit to Tangletown Gardens, but it definitely won’t be my last. It’s nice to know that the shop is open year round and has a wonderful supply of seasonal decorations during the holidays too.

Outdoor Fountains for Your Garden or Patio

Water Garden Fountains

Outdoor Garden Fountain

Our back yards may very well be perfect location for many people to unwind. You will find that this relaxation is actually enhanced when you have a water feature placed in the garden. For most individuals this feature is that of waterfalls which can be set in the vicinity of the pond. For others the dripping sound of running water that the backyard water features creates  a sense of being whisked away to some distant place that is restful and removed from the hubbub connected with the day-to-day routine.

The many back garden fountains that you can get happen to be an indication of the popularity these kinds of water fountains can have with people from all walks of life. You will want to think about several critical information when you are

considering setting one of these garden fountains somewhere within your back garden.

Among the aspects that you need to think of the size of the fountain that you intend having. You need to decide on on the method of pumping clean water into the fountain in a fashion that will not interfere or affect the usual water source. The cost of purchasing and setting up this fountain for your garden has to be thought of as well before you start thinking of checking out  garden fountains.

You will discover several types of garden fountains you can want to have in your garden. Some water features could be statues of pets, people, fairies or mermaids that will drip or spit into a fish-pond. There are also bird bath type fountains, tier fountains, or wall fountains. Another popular fountain is the bubbling grecian urn. The urn is set on a  stone setting and the pump motor draws the water from the base and pumps it up the heart of the urn and the flows over the outside of the urn. Many urns can be big.
Another type of garden fountain is the faucet type of fountain and this is a marvelous feature for tiny yard or patios.This type of water feature is actually a faucet that runs into a small tub or planter with water plants. The pump returns the water through a small tube up the plumbing to drip into the container.  Cascading pots or bamboo pumps also do well in the smaller places or in a nook of a flower bed.The comforting effect of the water bubbling from a small garden fountain is just as effective as a large waterfall to relieve the strain from a stressful workday.

The best place to observe water fountains in action is your neighborhood park or arboreteum. Additionally your local garden shop may have a number of fountains to pick from and can supply you tips on setting them up and taking proper care of them. Your home and garden magazines likewise display garden fountains and you can easily obtain a ton of outstanding ideas for your backyard or veranda. You can also surf to get more ideas for various water fountains.

With the help of garden fountains and the practices of Feng Shui in your garden you’ll be able to produce a place where negative energy is displaced. The resulting ambiance will probably make you feel happy and capable of accomplish anything.

To obtain this feeling of serenity you ought to check out the various styles of outdoor fountains that you can have. The assembly of one of these garden fountains may transform your house into a harbor of tranquility after a tough and hectic day.

Going Green With Native Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants Added to Backyard Pond
Aquatic Plants Added to Backyard Pond

The backyard pond had a large amount of algae early in the season this year. Two weeks ago the neighbor’s lawn on the backside of the pond was sprayed for dandelions and within days the majority of the fish were floating on the surface of the water. It’s likely that the combination of weed killer and lawn fertilizer seeped into the pond during the recent rainfall. If you’re thinking about adding a water feature to your yard, you will want to take into consideration whether the location may be exposed to chemicals from neighboring yards, as fish are very sensitive to common lawn chemicals.

A trip to Osceola, WI took us by the native plant store Prairie Restorations, Inc – Two Oaks in Scandia, MN so we stopped in to see what they had to offer in the way of plants. To my delight, I discovered that they carry a wide variety of aquatic plants which would fit nicely along the edge of the backyard pond. A bonus would be the filtering of the water, which will aid in keeping the water clear throughout the hot summer months, and provide more cover for the goldfish.

Native Aquatic Plants
Native Aquatic Plants

We selected Compass Plant, Bottlebrush Sedge, Marsh Marigold, Water Plantain, Prairie Phlox, Blue Flag Iris, and Tussock Sedge to place at the edges of the pond (note that the Compass Plant and Prairie Phlox are not aquatic plants).

First the pond needed to be modified to create a bog area since the existing sides were too steep and rocky to properly house the aquatic plants.

Edges of pond were steep and rocky.
Edges of pond were steep and rocky.

I started by removing the rocks at the front edge of the pond. Then lifted the heavy rubber liner and dug out the dirt beneath it. I removed enough dirt to lower the edge of the pond about 4 inches, then replaced the rubber and flattened it out. I added the rocks back around the edge of the liner, then pumped out the water using the solar pond pump. During the process, I discovered that there were still a couple of fish that had survived the lawn chemical runoff and they had doubled in size in the past month.

Refilling the pond, after pumping out the tainted water.
Refilling the pond, after pumping out the tainted water.

After the water being pumped out began to run clear, clean water was added back into the newly designed water garden. River rock and pond pea rock was added to the front ledge of the pond to create a bog-like area for the aquatic plants. A trip to a local Bachman’s resulted in the purchase of barley straw, water hyacinth, and water lettuce (they have a nice variety of water plants).

A bag of barley straw was added to the newly cleaned pond as an organic method of reducing algae build-up. I also added the water lettuce and water hyacinth which both float on the surface of the water and will aid in filtering, as well as provide cover for the fish. There’s also a water lily and miniature cattails in pots submerged in the water.

Barley Straw
Barley Straw
Water Hyacinth
Water Hyacinth
Water Lettuce
Water Lettuce

The end result is a more natural looking pond. The aquatic plants will be potted in larger pots as they grow and can be divided and placed along the sides of the pond as they mature.

Aquatic plants will be repotted and arranged as they mature.
Aquatic plants will be repotted and arranged as they mature.

Proposal by the Pond

Ducks occasionally stop in for a dip in the pond.
Ducks occasionally stop in for a dip in the pond.

Two summers ago on the 4th of July my boyfriend and I installed a backyard pond in the corner of his property.  The area where the pond is now located was a corner that had a steep grade and was very difficult to grow much of anything on.  The hot afternoon sun baked down on it and made it almost impossible for grass to grow.

We decided that we would use the slope to our advantage and build a waterfall into the side of the hill to add a relaxing babbling brook sound to the pond.

Creating the Pond
This is the process that we went through to turn the difficult corner into a pond.

It wasn’t until this year, that we finished the waterfall using a solar pump to circulate the water, since there is no electricity in that corner of the lot.

Here’s the finished pond:

And it was just a little over a week ago (May 6 to be exact) that my boyfriend became by fiance’ – in front of the pond.  He proposed – and of course  – I said Yes!

I suppose it’s possible that the hen and drake mallards are engaged now too!

At any rate – the backyard pond will hold a special memory in our hearts for years to come.