Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Flowers from Steve September 9, 2013

Twiehoff Gardens along St. Paul Road in Faribault offers an abundance of fresh produce.

Twiehoff Gardens along St. Paul Road in Faribault offers an abundance of fresh produce. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

“DO YOU HAVE ANY GLADS?” I asked Steve Twiehoff after my husband and I selected fresh baby red potatoes, green beans and a bag of northern Minnesota grown wild rice at Twiehoff Gardens on Faribault’s east side Sunday afternoon.

“I stopped cutting them,” Steve answered. “The deer were eating them.”

Old-fashioned gladiolus have been a mainstay at Twiehoff Gardens for decades.

Old-fashioned gladioli have been a mainstay at Twiehoff Gardens for decades. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I must have looked disappointed or sighed because he told me then and there that I could head out to the field and cut whatever gladioli I wanted—three for $1.


He pointed toward the slim opening in the pole shed doors, past the onions and gourds and pumpkins piled on a trailer, then outside and across the gravel parking lot and up the hill.

This is as close as I got to the glads, standing along the shoulder of the road photographing them.

Gladioli grow in a field near Utica in Winona County. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

“I’ll be back,” I said accepting the clippers this vegetable farmer handed to me. I aimed for the field that held glads, flowers rooted deep in my memory. I can still see the rows of gladioli rising above the greenery of the vegetable garden, splashing pinks and yellow, but mostly orangish red, across the land. My mom’s one small spot of beauty upon soil otherwise designated mostly for crops to feed the family and the livestock.

Steve knew none of this when he gave me the clippers.

But as I worked my way across the uneven and weedy patch of abandoned vegetable and flower garden in my flip flops, I thought of my mom and of her gladioli and how each fall she dug those bulbs—and later I did, too—to winter over in the cellar, to replant in the spring.

The three stems of gladiolus I snipped in Steve's garden.

The three stems of gladiolus I snipped in Steve’s garden.

I snipped three stems of pink blossoms from Steve’s garden, the only trio that appeared salvageable.

Clippers and blooms clutched in my hand, I aimed back for the pole shed to give Steve my dollar.

I laid the flowers on the counter and reached to unclasp my purse. “You can have them,” he said.

I stopped, looked at him. “Are you sure?”

He was.

“Thank you. That is so sweet.”

I picked up the stems. A smile touched my lips. I strode past the onions and gourds and pumpkins piled on the trailer, slipped through the slim opening between the pole shed doors, climbed into the van and considered how Steve had touched my heart with his thoughtfulness and kindness.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Flowers from Steve”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Glads remind me of my grandma Bonnie who always had fabulous flowers on her farm as well as other interesting things. I wish I was blogging when she was still alive——she was quite a lady. And good for Steve—-he touched more than one heart that day with his generosity. Happy Monday.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Those grandmas and their flowers…I think that’s why I love flowers so much. Tours of gardens were a must on any summer visit to my paternal grandmother’s house and my maternal great grandmother’s house.

      And, yes, Steve’s gift of flowers was wonderful. If you met him, you would love him. He is so down-to-earth and kind and loves growing things and tending the land.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Beautiful flowers, beautiful backdrop…..lucky you! Question: If Glads have to be dug up and replanted in the spring…does steve really dig up all these plants every year, and then replant in them in the spring?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That’s a good question, Jackie, and I don’t have the answer. I’ll ask Steve the next time I’m at Twiehoff Gardens.

      • Lois Says:

        YES! Steve does have workers who dig up those glad bulbs every fall. They are cleaned and dried and he stores them until spring when they are planted again and bring their beauty back to us the next summer.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        And would you be one of those bulb diggers, Lois? The glads are beautiful. So sweet of Steve to give them to me.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    So sad about the deer!! Those 3 stems are so gorgeous!! AND VINTAGE!! Ahhhh, the memories. We all can ‘tag’ into them.

  4. Allan Says:

    That was a “Deer story”. It will leave your readers with “Fawn” memories of yore. If the beautiful flowers are called gladiolus, are the half eaten-wilted ones called “Sadiolus?” Points to ponder from down yonder. Don’t you think.

  5. Ahhh the act of kindness – Beautiful flowers:) Happy Monday!

  6. Lisa C. Says:

    The Gladioli are beautiful! My dad used to grow them around his yard. He since moved on to Iris. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Irises are also beautiful flowers; love the smell. But the bloom doesn’t last long. They are my mom’s favorite flower.

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