Minnesota’s Horticultural Heroes

On Sunday, I’ll be in Northfield talking about a few of Minnesota’s horticultural heroes who I encountered while working on my new book, The Northern Gardener: From Apples to Zinnias, 150 years of Garden Wisdom. The book will be released in about two months! But because I have a long association with the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library, my friends in the Friends asked if I would give a pre-publication talk for the Friends’ annual meeting. Happily! The talk follows the Friends’ annual meeting at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24, at the library.

The Northern Gardener book is a fun combination of history and how-to. It’s the kind of book I would have liked when I first started gardening, full of practical tips, solid information for northern gardeners, fun stories and an occasional eccentric character. It’s this last part that I’ll be focusing on in my talk with the Friends.

When early European settlers first came to Minnesota and other northern states, they were stunned by the weather—and by how limiting our cold climate was to what they could grow. They were particularly obsessed with fruit and their inability to grow the apples, cherries and other fruits that they enjoyed in the eastern part of the United States. This desire for apples is what led to the formation of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society and to more than 150 years of apple breeding, peony growing, tree hybridizing and a relentless drive to create hardier, more prolific and more beautiful plants.

One of these ladies was a Gold Star mother and state Victory Garden leader during World War II.

Minnesota’s horticultural heroes were an interesting lot, from the spiritualist who developed one of the state’s first hardy apples to the priest/professor who tested thousands of plants on the grounds of St. John’s Abbey to the Gold Star mother who organized Victory Gardens throughout Duluth and was the first woman president of the state horticultural society.

If you live in Northfield, please stop by to learn more about these horticultural heroes. Another note: the wonderful people at Content Bookstores will be taking pre-orders of the book at my talk.



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