Yesterday, I took a side trip on my way home from the Twin Cities to Afton, Minnesota, to visit Squire House Gardens, a garden center specializing in unusual plants and accessories for home and garden. I visited the store last December to talk with co-owner Martin Stern and designer Kathy Oss about creating holiday pots. The garden was lovely then, under a coating of new snow, but it’s even more impressive in summer.
Martin, who designs and maintains the gardens with his partner, Richard Meacock, and a small crew of gardeners, describes his style as “English, but not formal.” The paths in the garden intersect at right angles, but each bed is less formally planted with perennials, annuals and shrubs that bloom in sequence. The peonies and iris are done for the year, but a few lilies were beginning to bloom. In another week or two, the garden will be filled with blooms, according to Martin, with more bursts of bloom in late summer and fall. Martin uses art and pots to create focal points. (I loved the statue and bench below.) Martin frequently shares his design advice in Northern Gardener.
If you are planning a short, scenic drive over the next few weeks, Afton’s a great place to visit. (They are having a Fourth of July celebration and parade.) My daughter, who was with me on the trip, enjoyed an iced tea in the local coffee shop, the Afton Bean while I visited the garden.