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.

What Happened To My Gardens?


Neglected garden has not been tended for two years.
Neglected garden has not been tended for two years.

There was a time when I took great pride in the appearance of my gardens, making sure to pluck each weed and nurture each plant to it’s prime.

Then along came a handsome man who stole my heart away. I began to spend my free time with him riding bikes along the trails of Minnesota, attempting to master the sport of golf, and generally just having a great time hanging out with that wonderful, kind, humorous soul who eventually became my fiance’.

My gardens started to lose their closely tended appearance.  An occasional spear of quack-grass poked through the decomposing layers of mulch.  Soon there were patches of grass and thistle poking through and threatening to choke out those precious perennials.

Then on a fateful day in September, 2008 that handsome man was late to arrive at work.  When I went looking for him, I discovered him lying on his kitchen floor, unable to move his left side. It was the second time in my life that I’ve called 911 in a panic (I’ll write about the first another time).

That fateful day changed our lives forever.  A stroke had immobilized my big, wonderful, hunk of a man.  It would take three months of in-house exhaustive therapy to get him back on his feet. Caring and nurturing the gardens at my house stopped that September day, as I turned my attention to the care and recovery of my soul-mate.  (Click Here to learn about signs of stroke).

Two weeks ago I began the clean-up of what becomes of gardens that have suffered two years of neglect.  My daughter accompanied me and photographed the gardens while I began to weed and mulch one garden at a time.  My goal is to have each of the gardens back in shape by the end of the summer.  As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.

These photos were taken by my daughter Heidi, as I began the “Garden Rescue Project.”
CLICK HERE to see the neglected gardens (view at your own risk).

A pull-behind sled makes a great container when you’re harvesting YARDS of weeds.

A sled full of quack grass, thistles, and creeping charlie.
A sled full of quack grass, thistles, and creeping charlie.

That evening, after several hours of intense weeding and mulching, one of the gardens began to start to look like a garden instead of a weed patch.

The weed patch began to look like a garden again.
The weed patch began to look like a garden again.

Thankfully, the company that I work for allows a flexible summer schedule so I’ll have Fridays off to tend my neglected gardens.  If all goes as planned what currently looks like this:

Neglected pond
Neglected pond

Will be on track to look like this again (in a year or two):

Pond in September, 2007
Pond before neglect set in

Dead-heading Endless Summer Hydrangeas

Endless Summer Hydrangea - Twist & Shout
Endless Summer Hydrangea - Twist & Shout

A month ago we purchased  and planted two Twist and Shout Endless Summer Hydrangeas to commemorate the sites where we buried the ashes of our two beloved labs.  Beau – a wonderful, large, and stubborn yellow Labrador Retriever who passed away from cancer in Aug. of 2007 at the age of 8; and Sophie a beautiful black Labrador Retriever who passed away last fall from unknown causes at the age of 5.  Their ashes had been sitting in boxes and it was time to find a more permanent and restful place for both of them.  Since they both loved water, and subsequently the backyard pond, we thought it appropriate that their final resting spots would be on the backside of the pond.

The Hydrangeas bushes are doing well.  They like a lot of water, especially since the area is sloped and gets about 8 hours of sun a day.  If it doesn’t rain, I water them nightly. They were in full bloom when I purchased them from the nursery and those blooms are faded, but more blooms are forming.  A quick trim of the faded blooms made them look much better, and will encourage more growth and blooming throughout the summer.  I trimmed each faded bloom stalk back to the second set of leaves.

Both shrubs seemed to have faired the application of lawn chemicals on the neighboring lawns.  I’m looking forward to the new buds maturing for another colorful display of purple and blue blossoms.  I’m confident that if  Beau and Sophie were still with us, they would both care less about the blossoming hydrangeas  – as long as the pond was full and the shade was plentiful.