Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Minneapolis Fling Intinerary Preview

Minnesota in summer
The Garden Bloggers Fling in Minneapolis is shaping up to be a fun event, where you'll see the wide range of Minnesota gardens, from historic city yards to unique rural gardens. We're still working out details (and we have a couple more gardens we hope to squeeze in), but here's a sneak peek at what you'll be enjoying in Minneapolis come July.

Boardwalk at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
Thursday, July 14
Welcome to Minnesota! If you are flying in, there is light rail service from both Twin Cities terminals (Lindbergh and Humphrey) to downtown. A cab ride will cost about $35. Check in at the Loew’s Hotel and join us for our Welcome Event (details to come).

DAY 1: Friday, July 15

Today we'll stay on the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities. We start the day touring two beautiful public gardens near one of Minneapolis' famous lakes. First, we'll got to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, the oldest native-plant garden in the United States, established and designed by pioneering horticulturist Eloise Butler in 1907. The garden features woodland, wetland and prairie habitats and is home to more than 130 species of birds.

Bachman's Idea House arrangement
Noerenberg Gardens
Then, we ride around the lake to visit Lyndale Park Gardens, located just a short ride from Eloise Butler on the shores of Lake Harriet. The gardens include a rose collection, northern perennial garden and the Peace Garden, a small Japanese style garden that is a favorite among city residents seeking a moment of quiet or a beautiful place to take a picture.

While we are in south Minneapolis, we'll stop at two fabulous private gardens. Then, on to lunch hosted by Bachman’s, one of the oldest garden centers in the Twin Cities, known for its three-times a year makeovers of the old Bachman’s homestead into an “idea house.” We’ll enjoy a salad lunch, talk with Karen Bachman Thull about trends in gardening and have a chance to shop.

Refreshed, we'll board the buses for Noerenberg Memorial Gardens, on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Built on the estate of Frederick Noerenberg, founder of Grain Belt Beer, the garden sits on Maxwell Bay and features formal and informal beds. Noerenberg will arrange to have gardeners in the garden to answer questions about the garden and its history.

We'll spend an hour at Noerenberg before taking a short ride to the private garden of Steve Kelley and Arla Carmichiel. Talk about a gardening power couple – Arla Charmichiel is the horticulturist at Noerenberg Gardens and her husband, Steve Kelly, owns Kelley and Kelley Nursery, an exceptional nursery only a short drive from the Noerenberg Gardens. We’ll have time to explore Arla and Steve’s beautiful private garden, and if you wish, you can walk across the street and see some of the unusual plants Kelley and Kelley offers.

We'll get you back to the hotel with plenty of time  to rest and freshen up before the Happy Hour sponsored by Garden Design magazine. Dinner is on your own and we'll have a list of nearby restaurants to check out. Or, if you are sports-minded, wander over to Target Field, where the Twins will be playing the Cleveland Indians!

DAY 2: Saturday, July 15

We go into the suburbs and the outskirts of Minneapolis to see the wide array of gardening styles.
Springwood Gardens
On our way, we'll stop at Vera's Garden, one of the many community gardens in the Twin Cities. This exceptional community garden backs up to the Midtown Greenway, a 5-mile bike route that runs through the heart of Minneapolis and is a favorite of both recreational and commuter bikers. The steep slopes on the side of the greenway have been shaped into ornamental and vegetable beds, largely by a crew of volunteers.

Next, we head to Hopkins and the lakes west of town to visit six private gardens in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. These range from smaller yards in neighborhoods from the 1940s to large, park-like spaces. What the gardeners all have in common is that they are Master Gardeners. Along the way, we'll stop for a box lunch.

In the mid-afternoon, we'll visit to Springwood Gardens, the home of Karol Emmerich’s daylily breeding operation and display garden. The colors will amaze you as we visit this large daylily garden, filled with daylilies Karol has created as well as those she just loves. Home, Karol will greet, give a brief talk about her daylilies and then give time for photographing and enjoying the grounds, which are located on a wind swept hill above the prairie.

Our next stop is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  We'll have our group photo taken and have time to tour the arboretum, which is one of the largest in the Midwest.  The folks at the arboretum are planning some special presentations for us, but since this is such a large space, there will also be lots of time for you to explore the specialty gardens on your own to take photos. All the plants here look gorgeous and they all have identification tags! It’s a great opportunity to get those plant glamour shots for your blog.
Japanese Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretym

Como Conservatory
We'll stay at the arboretum for our Fling Banquet, which will be a Minnesota-themed buffet dinner with drinks and lots of prizes and giveaways.

DAY 3: Sunday, July 17

Today, we go east to St. Paul and then into the wilds of Wisconsin

We start the day at Como Park Japanese Garden and Conservatory. This 100-year-old conservatory is the go-to refuge from winter cold in the Twin Cities. It features palms, banana trees and other tropical plants under an historic dome. Outside, we will have a chance to tour the park’s Japanese Garden with horticulturist Tina Dombrowski available to answer questions.

Then, we'll visit some of the beautiful private gardens of St. Paul, including Marge Hols' home garden. Marge is the dean of garden writers in St. Paul, and her home garden compliments beautifully the old-fashioned charm of her Summit Avenue home. If you have a few minutes after touring Marge’s garden, walk up and down Summit to see the old mansions (Minnesota’s Governor’s Mansion is about two blocks away.) We'll also see Lee and Jerry Shannon's garden. Named one of the five best gardens in the Twin Cities, this one is deceptive. From the front, the Shannons’ house looks like a typical bungalow on a city lot. But, behind it is a two-third acre plant haven, featuring a rock garden, a formal garden, a gazebo and an impressive conifer collection. Lee and Jerry are a delight and love sharing their garden with others.

Bailey's Display Garden is full of creative ideas.
Our next stop is for lunch at Bailey’s Display Garden. Meet the folks behind Easy Elegance roses, First Editions shrubs and perennials and Endless Summer hydrangeas. The Bailey family has been growing and selling plants in Minnesota (and far beyond!) for three generations. We’ll enjoy lunch in their lovely display garden in Cottage Grove.

After lunch, we'll visit Afton, a quaint river town that is home to Squire House Gardens, one of Minnesota's many independently owned garden shops. This one in tiny Afton is located in an old house with formal and casual gardens around it. Owner Martin Stern will share some of his favorite design tips. We may also have a few minutes to wander around Afton. Depart 2:20 for drive to Beldenville, Wis.

Lots of surprises at Woutrina De Raad's Garden
After this stop, we'll drive through western Wisconsin to Woutrina DeRaad's Mosaic Sculpture Park and Garden. We may have saved the best for last. This private garden and sculpture park is difficult to describe – it’s like stepping into another world. Riana, the owner and creator, is an artist in tile and in plants. We’ll have an hour to explore this amazing space.

We hope you'll join us for the Minneapolis Fling! Register today and stay tuned for more details to come.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Five Things to Know About Minnesota Gardeners

When your winters are long, you make your gardens big.

Those of us on the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling planning committee are so excited to introduce bloggers around the country to our beautiful part of the world, but there are a few things you need to know before you come.

1) Gardeners here are ENTHUSIASTIC! Spending six months or more surrounded by snow does not quell the desire of Minnesotans to grow things. The gardens you will see are lush and layered. Community gardening is huge in the Twin Cities and we will be visiting one of the most unusual of these neighborhood gardens. It's on what is essentially a "bike freeway" through Minneapolis. Did you know Minneapolis, despite its climate, is rated the No. 3 best biking city by Bicycling Magazine?

2) All those things Garrison Keillor says about Minnesotans -- kind of true. "All the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children above average." At least, we think so. While Lake Woebegone is not a real place, it is based on one that is -- and I can tell you a very Keillor-esque story about the real place. Or, you can visit it, if you decide you want to extend your stay to explore Minnesota. And, that accent the Coen brothers made famous in Fargo? Yep, we got it.

Snow on May 2? Yep, it happens. Not it July.
3) Our winters are cold, but our summers are not. In fact, they are gorgeous. Be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater for the Fling, just in case we get a breeze. But also pack warm-weather clothing, a good hat and plenty of sunscreen. July can be warm.

Sunset on Lake Minnetonka
4) Land of 10,000 Lakes? Minnesota really has more lakes than that, and we will be visiting some gardens that are located on or near lakes. Having water in your backyard makes everything more beautiful, don't you think?

Rose trial garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where roses are tested for hardiness.
5) Plant breeding is big here. Honeycrisp apples? Bred in Minnesota. Hosta breeder Hans Hansen? Got his start in Minnesota. Oso Happy® Smoothie™roses? Bred in Minnesota. Plant breeders in Minnesota have worked hard to develop grapes for the North, grasses for the North, chrysanthemums for cold climates, and fruits and berries of all kinds -- all suitable for cold-climates. Are you catching a theme here?

There are still spots open for the Minneapolis Fling, click here to register today! We hope you will join us!