Okay, just kidding. We’d probably keel over if we had to get the garden in shape for a tour every year. But it was a really fun day and if someone asked, we’d probably offer up our yard again for a tour in the future. Even though it was in the 90s with extremely high humidity, the 9-hour day went by fast and we honestly could have gone on yacking with visitors for at least another hour or two after the 4 p.m. closing time.
The numbers have been crunched and it looks like we had 367 people touring the 11 gardens on display—that’s the biggest year yet for the annual Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour. Our garden is small and the paths are narrow, so we were worried that visitors might feel cramped and rushed in a way that would keep them from experiencing the garden as it’s meant to be experienced.
Luckily, people trickled in throughout the day and meandered down the paths looking at everything. Everyone was smiling and happy and had a lot of questions. It’s mostly true that mean people don’t garden, and this day was a testament to that. Love fest would be a good way to describe the day, really, and who doesn’t want more love?Read More»
Two days from now, on Saturday, somewhere around 300 people will be coming to check out our gardens as part of the Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour. Our house is one of 11 stops on the one-day tour, and we have been working like maniacs for three solid months to get the place in shape.
Truthfully, as you’ll see from the photos I’m posting, we’ve been working on our yard for six summers in a way that would probably seem nutty to most people. But when I volunteered us for the tour, we really had to kick things into high gear and we have now completed EVERY project that we had on our to-do list for the yard. Had it not been for the tour, we probably would have stretched those projects out over three years or more. So while we’re exhausted, we’re also really glad to have little more than weeding and watering to do next summer.Read More»
It’s a good thing shrubs can’t talk because, boy, if they could, some of them would have some mighty hateful words for their tenders.
I go on walks a lot, so I see shrubs all the time that have been scalped, sheared and otherwise dismembered in all manner of ways. But this sad lineup really took my breath away. I’m sure this gardener means well and has trimmed and denuded these shrubs for years in an attempt to keep them in a neat, hedge-like formation.
As you can see, though, things aren’t working out as planned and he’s (I’ve seen him at work) ended up with bare sticks topped with foliage that looks like unruly hair pieces rather than lush shrubs. What did he do wrong? Well, too much to explain well here without making your eyes glaze over. So, instead, let me give you some links to a few good resources that explain pruning in understandable, easy-to-follow terms.
Too often I hear garden gurus say pruning is easy, blah, blah, blah. What? I’m here to tell you that that’s just not true. Sure, once you get the hang of pruning things get easier and easier. But understanding the best ways to prune different types of shrubs and trees takes time to learn, and you learn even more by experience. The most important thing to remember is that you want to maintain a shrub’s natural shape as best you can. So comparisons to “haircuts” are off the mark.
I hope these links are helpful.
Virginia Cooperative Extension: This publication offers good descriptions and illustrations.
University of Missouri Extension: Check out the explanation of different tools.
University of Minnesota Extension: Good info. on pruning trees and shrubs.
Utah State University Extension: Very helpful 5-minute video.
Aquaponics has been on my “Must Learn More About This” list for a long while. So when I found out Garden Fresh Farms in nearby Maplewood was giving free tours of their aquaponics facility, I signed right up to go. The tour was scheduled for the middle of a week day and Maplewood is a pretty long drive out of the Twin Cities, so I didn’t expect much of a crowd. Whew! I was so wrong.
All of the tour dates booked up fast and when we arrived, the back room of the building where the tour started was already bustling with people eating cookies and waiting to head inside. If you don’t know much about aquaponics, no worry. I’ll do my best to explain, albeit simply because goodness known I am no expert on this.
Essentially, plants are grown in water rather than soil. Lights do the work of the sun, and fertilizer is provided by fish in the water (tilapia and trout in this case) who generously contribute their nutrient-rich poo. In turn, the plants’ roots help filter the water for the fish.Read More»
Rich people may have money, but that usually doesn’t keep their gardens from being stuffy snooze fests of unearthly green grass bordered by close-clipped hedges and dotted with a weird topiary or two.
This being the case, I just had to stop the car and take pictures the other day when I spotted some amazing, over-the-top container gardens flanking the gates of an otherwise bland-looking mansion on Minneapolis’ swanky Lake of the Isles.
And I wasn’t alone. Several other people had stopped to stare or take pictures, too. As you might imagine, we don’t see too many tropical displays of this magnitude in these parts. So what did we do? We all behaved as if we were in a library and didn’t make a sound as we blinked in the morning sun.
There were clearly other containers to be gawked at in the front yard too. But nobody ventured up the steps to peek inside the gates. It seemed kind of rude.I was really hoping someone would see us and just come on out and invite us inside in that grand way that Willy Wonka invites Charlie, his grandpa and all of those dreadful other people into the chocolate factory.
Perhaps it’s all for the best that it didn’t go that way, really.