Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Frogs cast an enchanting spell in my sister’s Minnesota garden August 5, 2010

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One of the many frogs tucked among the flowers and plants in my sister's yard.

MY SISTER LANAE really doesn’t need a frog. She found and married her prince nine years ago.

Yet, she’s fallen hard for a bunch of frogs (technically an army of frogs) and a few toads. They’ve invaded her yard, taken over fountains and flower beds, bird baths and blossoms, and she’s welcomed them.

They’re all part of her plan, her grand plan to cast an envious spell (in my opinion) upon all who enter the enchanting world that is her backyard.

Now, you may think I’m exaggerating, playing this up, maybe even waving my own magical wand over you. But I’m not. My sister, the floral designer, has subtly tucked some 20 frogs and toads and other sweet little surprises into her gardens.

I marvel at her attention to detail, her designs, her intriguing way of naturally melding collectibles with the plants and flowers she has carefully selected, blended, nurtured. Her creations beckon visitors to pause, to really look, to delight in her artistry, for she is every bit an artist. Her yard is her canvas for the beautiful floral scenes she paints.

Last Sunday, during the Waseca Garden Club Garden Walk, folks noticed what I’ve known about my sister for decades. She colors outside the lines. She dares to make horses pink, cows purple. She is a strong, opinionated, determined, talented woman.

As I photographed Lanae’s vignettes, I eavesdropped, heard the praise, the ooohing and the aaahing, the exclaiming over her creations.

She deserves the gushing words—every single kudo, every single utterance of praise, every compliment—for she gardens with passion, with a love for the earth, with a heart for creating that which is absolutely, undeniably, beautiful.

Lanae created a lovely memory garden in honor of her friend, Vicki Andrejewski, who died in September 2009. Vicki's purple bird bath centers the garden, planted in her favorite colors of lime green and purple.

This gem-covered bowling ball drew the attention of visitors. Lanae applied "gems" to the recycled bowling ball using E6000 glue. The shimmering ball rests in Vicki's bird bath.

A bird bath accents a cluster of sedum. To the right, in the back, Lanae has rooted plants inside a birdcage-style terrarium.

Look closely and you'll discover a tiny frog tucked inside this birdcage terrarium.

I saw a boy grab these squishy frogs from a bird bath and then playfully toss them back into the water.

Using chicken wire and wood, Lanae created a wall garden. She planted hen 'n chicks, creeping Jenny, Mezoo trailing red Dorotheanthus, two types of sedum and two types of thyme and leaned the box against a tree.

A sizable toad lounges under a shade tree next to a Firecracker begonia.

Fairy tale mushrooms brighten foliage in a shady garden spot.

A dreamy blue ball set upon a pedestal accents a bed of blue salvia.

A colorful frog perches, almost naturally, in a gurgling fountain.

Lanae's yard was picture perfect for the garden tour, right down to the summery place setting on her patio table.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling