Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Sunday afternoon drive snapshot: Sculpture garden in Jarrett November 10, 2013

Sculpture, lens flare on arch

SUN FILTERED THROUGH THE STAND of cedars. Bright enough to cause lens flare when I shot toward the scraggly close-knit cluster of trees shadowing the banks of the clear, fast-flowing Zumbro River.

The setting appeared almost surreal and haunting in the sense that viewing the unexplained can impress upon the mind.

Sculpture, castle

I’d heard of this place, missed it on a previous pass through Jarrett, and nearly missed it again. But on this Sunday afternoon drive, I glimpsed the stone configurations among the cedars and asked my husband to swing the van around.

So here we were, pulled off Wabasha County Road 11, parked in a drive about the length of our van. I wasn’t even sure we should be here, uncertain whether this was public or private land. But I figured “No trespassing” signs would mark the property if visitors weren’t welcome into this sculpture garden.

Sculpture, wreath

In the quiet of this Sunday afternoon, and I cannot imagine any day being anything but quiet here in this secluded wide spot in the road, we meandered among the sculptures, shoes sinking into squishy earth tunneled by varmints.

Sculpture, cone top sculpture

Arches and points.

Sculpture, stones close-up 1

Sculpture, stone close up 3

Sculpture, stone close-up 2

Stones joined somehow into these interesting pieces of art. By whom? And why?

As Randy and I wandered and examined and wondered aloud, my appreciation grew for this artist. I expect he worked alone here, drawn to the solitude of this rugged place in the valley. He was, perhaps, viewed as a bit of an odd fellow. Was he a poet? A farmer? A musician?

Do you know the story of this artist and the rock garden in Jarrett, the unincorporated community which made headlines when the Zumbro roared from its banks during the flash floods of September 2010? I’d like to hear.

Someone tends this sculpture garden as flowers grew (during the warmer months) here among the artwork. Someone cares…


As I walked away from the sculpture garden toward the Zumbro River, I spotted this charming old water pump. I moved closer, until my husband stopped me in my tracks. We saw boards lying across the ground around the pump, an indication that this might not be a safe place to walk.

As I walked away from the sculpture garden toward the Zumbro River, I spotted this charming old water pump. I moved closer, until my husband stopped me. We saw boards, mostly buried under leaves, lying across the ground around the pump, an indication that this might not be a safe place to walk.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Sunday afternoon drive snapshot: Sculpture garden in Jarrett”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    That would be a very neat garden to happen upon!!! I love the details and the way the different colored rocks contribute to the over all beauty! Sharp eyed Randy probably saved you from disaster!!! Whew.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      He did. I could be lying at the bottom of a well. Sometimes I get too focused on my photography.

  2. Deanna Auge Says:

    This appears to be an outdoor chapel and stopping place for weary travelers on horse or buggy, an outdoor oasis for a cool, refreshing drink of water and time for quiet reflection in the comfort of Mother Nature. A question for geologists…Any idea where the stones are from? Isn’t there a stone sculpture garden in Iowa? Wonder if there is any connection.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Perhaps you are correct because this certainly seems a perfect place for quiet reflection.

      Yes, there is a large religious stone monument in West Bend, Iowa, known as The Grotto of the Redemption. I’ve seen it and it’s stunning. As soon as I saw this sculpture garden by Jarett, I thought of the Grotto because of the similarities in construction.

      Near Jarett, at St. Patrick’s Church in West Albany, there’s also a similar shrine sculpture outside the church. I photographed that, too, and will post those images eventually. I would guess the same person who constructed the Jarrett garden also created the shrine at St. Patrick’s.

      Any readers out there have any info? Deanna and I would love to hear.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Without too much trouble, one could easily think the location to be somewhere in the Ireland, Scotland or Wales (or some such). So neat……a fairy tale setting for sure!!! Sigh……

  4. hotlyspiced Says:

    It’s very beautiful and it looks very serene, almost eery. I love the sculptures and I image they must be quite old. xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      They are lovely and answers to some of our questions are provided in a comment from Katie Shones, who lives in next door Hammond.

  5. Katie Shones Says:

    Hello, Audrey. The following excerpts are from an article written by Norton L. Beyer from Hammond, MN on “an accompaned tour in the event of the Millville Village Centennial on the 15th day of August 1970”. Mr. Beyer and his wife, the former Lucy Brucher, were life long residents of Hammond. They owned and operated the Hammond Store until the late 1960’s.

    “Jakey Riemers came to the Valley in the early 20’s from Canada I think. He was an excellent artist, in taxidermy and his rock garden is proof. I think he started the garden in about 1934 or 35. He traveled miles looking at other gardens and looking for his stones. Of course his hunting and fishing episodes are legendary. He did much to eliminate the rattlesnakes. Jakey also raised foxes. That’s when the ladies all had to have fox neckpieces.”

    Jakey Riemers work can also be seen at St Clement’s cemetary in Hammond and at St Patrick’s church in West Albany. Many of the stones were geodes collected from the Zumbro River. I never met Jakey, but did know his son, Fritzy. I remember, as a child, going gingsing and agate hunting with Fritzy.

    Wabasha County purchased the Jarrett rock gardens after the flood on 2010. I don’t know what the plans are for this beautiful place, but I hope it is made into a public park. Tom and Ruthann Diedrich who’s property is adjacent to these gardens maintain them all on a volunteer basis.

    Next time you are in the area, stop in!

    Katie Shones

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Katie, I have been waiting for you to comment because I knew you could answer my questions about the Jarrett rock garden. You are, after all, the one who first told me about this place. When I return in the spring to see the garden, with flowers in bloom, I will stop in. I also want to return to Plainview.

      I am most appreciative of your sharing this info.

      Randy and I were surprised to find so many of the houses gone now in Zumbro Falls. It looks so, um, empty. We did not drive all the way into Hammond as we found a lovely gravel road that we followed from Hammond along the Zumbro back to Zumbro Falls. It was the most beautiful drive.

    • Linda Wicklund Says:

      Hi Katie, That was my father’s Uncle Jake. Larry Reimers was my father. I remember going to his place when I was a little girl and going through his rock garden. In the back room he had all his taxidermy. I think it was a two-headed snake or something that I found so interesting. I know my father always went gingsing hunting and snake hunting. I wished I could remember some of the stories he used to tell. I hope I can get back there someday and see how things have changed. My husband and I with my mother live in Arkansas and my two sons and family live in Wisconsin. All other relatives in Minnesota. Love to hear your stories. Linda

      • Brook Says:

        Linda, this is years later, but I have been looking into family history. My father was also a Larry Reimers, and Jakey (Henry), the artist of the rock garden, was my great-grandpa. I heard many stories about the museum and the two-headed snake!! Your comment was very fun to read. When I was a kid, we used to play here a lot, and I’ve pumped water from that well / pump featured in the article.

        What were the names of you grandparents? I don’t know that you’ll see this comment ever, but I can hope.

        I currently live in Germany, but a lot of family still lives in the area / in Minnesota.

  6. Marilyn Says:

    I’ve seen something similar in Tennessee and at Hever Castle, England. I enjoyed seeing the crystal of the opened geode. I wonder how the rocks are stuck together? The site just needs a couple of pews. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, wouldn’t pews be a nice addition, if only they would withstand a Minnesota winter.

      I expect the rocks are held together by cement.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Lucky for you to happen upon this gem of a garden. I love the details in the rock formations, how beautiful!

  8. McGuffy Ann Says:

    Beautiful and inspiring pictures.

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