Garden Party Time!

If the weather cooperates, July is the perfect time for a garden party–and I made it to two beautiful ones this week.

Thursday night I got a chance to swing by Bob and Trish Johnson’s garden near Hampton, where they were hosting a benefit for the Virginia Piper Breast Center. The event was called “An Evening in the Garden: Living, Healing, Giving,” and featured a silent auction, music, dessert, and arts of all kind. That’s cellist Anna Vazquez at right, who volunteered her services for the event. She’s playing in a formal garden near Trish’s arbor and white garden.

Despite a brutal wind and rain storm that came through Hampton (and Northfield!) Thursday afternoon, the evening was fresh and clear and Trish’s garden looked amazing. (She told me they did some really fast clean up before the party.) I profiled Trish’s garden in the January/February issue of Northern Gardener. This landscape has it all: views that go on for miles, gorgeous stonework, art placed throughout (even tiles on Trish’s pea trellis), and carefully planned and cared for plantings. Trish is a Master Gardener and her experience can be seen throughout this large garden, which easily accommodated a couple of hundred folks for the benefit.

Earlier this week, the Minnesota State Horticultural Society hosted its annual Garden Gathering, which is a “Thank You” event for contributors to the society. The gathering was held at the garden of Ken and B.J. Dahlberg on Lake Minnetonka. The Dahlbergs’ garden features rolling lawns, both shade and sun beds, and quite a bit of wooded area. The place was immaculate and a wonderful setting for this event. That’s MSHS President Joe Plante and CEO Rose Eggert enjoying the event.

That’s it for my social whirl for this week, but next week the party continues: I head to Milwaukee for three days of garden tours and hoopla. I’d better rest up.

Plant Groups Gather at Gertens

plantsoc1.jpgI mentioned in an earlier post that March is a huge month for garden get-togethers and educational events. I’ve got two events on the docket for this weekend. On Saturday, I’ll be attending the annual Rice County Horticulture Day at Buntrock Commons at St. Olaf. This all-day event features Terry Yockey, web-mistress over at, a Minnesota Master Gardener, and Northern Gardener columnist, talking about planting for fall and winter color; Dr. Mark Seeley of the U of M on climate change and gardening; floral designers Cheryl Steinberg and Pam Strouth on arranging flowers; and Jim Bull on growing orchids. It sounds like a great program.

On Sunday, MSHS is hosting Plant Society Day at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights, from 1 to 5 p.m. If you have a passion for a particular flower (or mushrooms!), this is the place to get information from expert home-growers. Here’s a list of societies that will attend the event:

African Violet Society of Minnesota
Lakes Area Violet Growers
Minnesota Bonsai Society

Daffodil Society of Minnesota
Minnesota Dahlia Society
Minnesota Grape Growers Association

Hemerocallis Society of Minnesota
Minnesota Herb Society, Inc.
Minnesota Hobby Greenhouse Society
Iris Society of Minnesota
North Star Lily Society
Minnesota Mycological (Mushroom) Society
Minnesota Peony Society
North American Rock Garden Society, Minnesota Chapter
Twin Cities Rose Club

With the weather finally warming up a little, these gardening events are just the thing to get your horticultural juices flowing.

Cottage Gardens and Cineraria

The English Garden at the Minneapolis Home and Garden show is actually a series of gardens, each designed and planted by a Twin Cities landscaping firm. I’ve only been to Britain once and gardens were not on the agenda, though my younger daughter, then age 9, and I had a great time at the London Zoo, which has a garden-like feel and is located in Regent’s Park, home to a fabulous rose garden. I remember the day because she was so amazed that some kids considered baked beans on toast delicious fast food. Ah, the wonders of travel. In any case, I’m no judge of how realistic the 10 English Gardens at the home show are, but a couple of the gardens caught my eye.

img_1247.jpgimg_1248.jpgThis Cineraria is the bluest plant I have ever seen. The folks at Masterpiece Landscaping in Minnetonka used drifts of blue, blue-purple, and blue-white Cineraria to great effect in their garden. Josh Jerde of Masterpiece told me that the plant is not used much because the blooms fade by mid-June and the foliage is not exciting. I had to take a picture of this eagle garden sculpture nearby. I’m not sure what kind of a garden you would need to have one of these planted in it, except it would have to be very, very large.

img_1256.jpgimg_1263.jpgI also liked the cottage garden. I believe the firm that did it is called Botanical, but I’m not positive. They used some cottage-y plants, like hydrangea and clematis, and combined them with interesting, unusual evergreens, including this evergreen on a stick. I’m planning to convert the bed in front of my house to a much more cottage look–though our house is more aptly described as a snout house rather than a cottage–but I like the feel of fullness and color that cottage gardens have. I’m still not sure how to realize that next to our garage/snout.

Cole Burrell and the Native Plants Movement

burrell_c.jpgC. Colston Burrell, a garden designer, photographer, naturalist, and all around guru of the native plants movement, will be speaking at Bachman’s Lyndale Avenue store Jan. 12. The event is co-sponsored by the Minnesota State Horticulture Society, the Rock Garden Society of Minnesota, the Saint Paul Garden Club, and Twin Cities Wild Ones. Burrell, author of A Gardener’s Encyclopedia of Wildflowers, is in the Twin Cities to attend the Minnesota Green Expo, the landscaping industry’s annual trade show.

His public talk, which begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, will be on the 20th Century Native Plant Movement, tracing gardeners’ love of native plants from “the Victorian passion for the outdoors and the birth of the field guide to the environmental movement and the growing number of modern native plant nurseries.” With the increasing concern about buckthorn and other invasives, more people are seeking native plants for private gardens and public spaces.

Tickets for Burrell’s presentation are $20 for members of MSHS, $25 for everyone else. Seating is limited and this event likely will sell out. If you are interested, call 651-643-3601, ext. 211, to register.

African Violet Show This Weekend

robslovebite.jpgIndoor plants have never been my strong suit. I’m just too apt to water too much or too little, which is why I’m in awe of gardeners who can keep African violets blooming all year. This weekend, Minnesota’s premier African violet growers will be showing their stuff at the North Star African Violet Council‘s Fall Show at the Bachman’s store at 60th and Lyndale in Minneapolis. In addition to seeing some beautiful plants, visitors will be able to buy plants grown by council members. The plant at left is called Rob’s Love Bite and was named Best in Show at the council’s Spring 2007 plant show.