Lessons from the Masters

IMG_5648The Hennepin County Master Gardeners held a garden tour today and, despite my poor navigational skills in South Minneapolis (what can I say? I come from the east side of the Twin Cities), I managed to hit four of the 10 gardens. It was well worth all the missed turns. Each of the gardens had a theme — wildlife garden (that’s where the hawk at left was hanging out), garden retreat, farm garden, etc. — but the gardens had many things in common, too. In addition to wonderful, well-cared-for plants, here are three things I noticed:

IMG_5641Entries: Maybe it’s because these gardens were mostly on fairly narrow urban lots, but the ones I saw had distinct entries. In two, you walked through an arch that seemed to beckon a visitor in. Even those without obvious entry portals had paths that seemed to lead you into and through the garden.

IMG_5673Water: You could not get more simple than this water feature, attached to the exterior wall of one of the homes. But this was positioned just at the point where you entered the backyard and the sound of the water added another sensual element to the garden. A larger garden near Minnehaha Creek boasted a formal fountain as a centerpiece. With curving, perennial-filled beds on each side, the fountain with plants encircling it offered a place for your eye to rest as it moved through the yard.

IMG_5652Art: Whether a simple leaf-cast (very easy to do with a rhubarb or large hosta leaf) or a funky metal sculpture, all of the gardens I saw included artwork — and not just one piece. I saw mosaic stones, stone welcome signs, even a tea-cup glued to a narrow metal pole and planted in the garden — another easy-to-do project.

IMG_5687Thanks to the gardeners for opening their yards to the public and to the Master Gardeners for organizing the tour. The homeowners were present in each of the gardens I visited and happy to share advice. In addition, other Master Gardeners answered questions and offered lots of information and handouts.

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