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July 28, 2005

Gardening for a Good Cause

People garden for lots of good reasons, such as exercise; tasty, homegrown vegetables; a creative outlet, etc., but this was the first time I’ve gardened for a good cause.

Our gardens were part of the Bright Beginnings Garden Tour, sponsored by the City of Plymouth with proceeds benefiting both the city’s Millennium Garden and a mentoring program for teen mothers at North Memorial Hospital. Since Graham was born at North, this was especially meaningful.

The tour organizers must have done some tremendous promotional work because they reached the tour capacity of 150 people and even had 25 to 30 people on the waiting list!

Five bus loads with 162 gardening enthusiasts made a round robin circuit of six different gardens in Plymouth with lunch and a presentation by local gardening personality Bobby Jensen following at the Plymouth Creek Center.

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I have a feeling we were probably the smallest garden on the tour, but we pulled out all our tricks to make the gardens look great. We even placed Graham's fire truck and wagon over dead spots in the lawn. Brian and I answered lots of different questions about plants, butterflies and wisteria. And people were literally lined up to get in.

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The most frequently asked question came as a big surprise to me. On each tour, several people asked about the bergenia that edges both our window wells at the back of the house. While I love its big leaves and interesting texture, it’s always just been a nondescript background plant to me. Who knew it would cause such curiosity?

Other questions focused on the source of some of our garden supplies, such as “Where did you get your lavender incense sticks?” Smith and Hawken. “Where did you purchase your copper fountain?” Smith and Hawken. “Where did you purchase your copper pots?” Smith and Hawken. You get the idea.

The people were fun to watch. Some were definitely serious plantspeople while others were just there to spend a pleasant morning. I think everyone had a good time, and hopefully picked up a new few ideas for their own gardens. Plus it was a beautiful day, and the tiger swallowtail butterflies were abundant.

I admit it was rather fun to play the ‘garden expert’ again, especially when talking about such an overwhelming passion of ours. And if you were to stop at any point of the garden and take a 360 degree panoramic sweep of the yard, I’d have to say it was looking its best. Here are a series of panoramic photos Brian took earlier this week.

Panoramic One

Panoramic Two

Panoramic Three

Panoramic Four

Panoramic Five

Panoramic Six

Panoramic Seven

Panoramic Eight

Brian stayed back to hang out with Graham so I was able to attend the lunch with my cousin Karen who drove all the way from South St. Paul to attend. Before the speaker began, each of the gardeners who hosted the tour was presented with this very attractive stepping stone, which will be a welcome addition to the gardens.

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Special thanks go to our landscape designer Jay Siedshlaw of Dundee Nursery for being present to answer questions as well that morning.

Cut Flowers

This week a few coworkers and I had lunch at the home of our former division head and his wife. They moved into a new home about a year ago and had a new remodeling project to show off. And some gorgeous gardens. They have both been busy.

Before we left, I visited their bathroom and was stopped dead in my tracks by the most delicious fragrance. I looked around to see what special scented soap or lotions were on the vanity counter and then realized that the aroma was coming from an arrangement of cut flowers from Diana’s garden.

When I commented on them, she said she always has cut flowers in her house – either from the garden or purchased. What a lovely thing to do.

But for some reason, I just can’t seem to cut my flowers to make a bouquet each week. Occasionally I’ll cut a stem or two of something to brighten up my office at work but I rarely have a vase with blooms from the garden inside the house.

Maybe I feel I don’t have enough to cut and still have enough to look good in the garden, maybe I’d just rather see them outdoors. It could also be that any vase in our house has a pretty good probability of getting knocked over by one kid or another.

I’ll have to work on this one. Both the purple phlox and white “David” smell especially nice right now…

A Week of Joy and Sorrow

In the midst of all the pre-tour panic attacks, there was joy. I had a long chat with my childhood friend Amy in NYC to congratulate her on the birth of her new baby girl, Hedda Marie. Both mom and babe are doing well.

There was also sorrow: I learned that Tim Fiske, the former assistant director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the man who gave me my start there, passed away last Sunday. He will be greatly missed.

As I still miss my friend Tony Pezalla who died of cancer nearly three years ago. After the garden tour lunch, I visited his memorial bench at the City of Plymouth’s Millennium Garden. Tony and I were in the same Master Gardener class, and he was my native plant mentor. I hope he has been enjoying my prairie patch.

What’s Happening in the Garden Now

The butterflies continue to flutter about. The tiger swallowtails have been joined by pretty little white butterflies that are probably damaging cabbage moths. Ah, well.

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Some plants will be hitting their second wind soon. The wisteria has put out a few buds, as have the roses, Walker’s Low nepeta and others. I’ve also noticed another flush of grown on the Hidcote lavender but I don’t expect more blooms from them.

The Mystery Plant

As many people figured out, the mystery plant last week was cardinal lobelia. Can you guess the plant this week?

Here’s What’s Blooming Now

Ligurlaria “The Rocket”
Cardinal Lobelia
Nasturtium “Peach Melba” and others
Rudbeckia “Goldsturm”
Phlox “David”
Russian sage
Hydrangea “Annabelle”
Coreopsis “Moonbeam”
Campanula “Blue Clips” and others
Joe Pye Weed
Purple coneflower
Butterfly weed
Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Indian blanket
Nepeta “Walker’s Low”

Garden Chores for the Week

With the tour over, my desire to work hard in the garden has suddenly vanished. I’ve reached the point in my summer when I long to lounge around on the willow furniture with a good book and a cool drink and be lazy.

So I’ll do the minimum required to keep the plants living and take a break for a while. (Yeah, right!)

Vegetable Garden

To keep the runner beans producing fruit, I should be harvesting daily.

The Roma tomatoes are starting to ripen.

Today’s Grahamisms

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"Glynis and Pont are just not using their manners. For Christmas we should get them the Big Book of Doggy Manners, and that’s all."

"I wonder what dogs dream about? I know! I’ll bet they dream that Santa will tell them that for Christmas, they can go poop and potty inside the house, just like people."

These next gems were all uttered during a 20-minute commute home this week.

Graham’s solution to a traffic jam:

"Whenever you see a car that is colorful, follow it."

"…So if atoms are inside our bodies, are they friends with germs?"

"Oh, I just felt a germ run inside my leg right now!"

"Only cheetahs can run as fast as infinity!"

"If you get shocked by lightning, it won’t be any fun."

"On sunny days, I like to go to the pool with my dad, and on rainy days, I like to go to the stores."

"I think that we should go to the store that says “Holiday” on it for our next stay-home stays because that’s where you have a holiday."

Graham also got his soccer report from his summer program. As you can see, he is doing well and his father is very proud to see him excelling in sports, as Brian once did himself.


Posted by maasx003 at July 28, 2005 6:14 PM | Family | Gardens


Jacki/Brian--loved your garden, it was beautiful, the average middle class family lives on an average city lot, so your garden was probably the smallest, but the most realistic, not many of us can afford homes with HUGE lots to take care of (that is why the front of our house is so bare). I love the Grahamisms--infinity, now there is a word for a 5 year old to use--!! Doubt that I have ever used it --
thanks again for your garden tour. karen

Posted by: karen m at August 7, 2005 12:43 PM

Thanks to all you attended this tour and helped out for a great cause. Hope you all enjoyed our gardens!

Posted by: Brian Maas at August 12, 2005 6:48 AM