Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Garden art: In planting & in painting July 24, 2014

A rear view of Elizabeth Olson's house shows the steep hillside that defines her lot.

A rear and side view of Elizabeth Olson’s house shows the steep hillside that defines her lot.

I ADMIRE GARDENER ELIZABETH OLSON. She gardens on a property that I would term challenging given her home’s hillside location.

Hydrangea nestle a fence along a side yard stairway.

Hydrangea nestle a fence along a side yard stairway.

Numerous retaining walls and lots and lots and lots of stairs mark her south Northfield yard. Cautiousness proceeded my every step as I tread downhill, up more stairs to the backyard patio, then back down to side yard gardens and back up the hill during the recent Northfield Garden Club 2014 Garden Tour.

Yellow Columbine.

Yellow Columbine grow near the entry to Elizabeth’s home.

In between all that stepping, I stopped to admire the plants—156 of them tagged for identification. I suppose that’s a good plan if you’re participating in a public garden tour.

Sculpture art mixed with plant art.

Sculpture art mixed with plant art.

During a brief chat with Elizabeth, she claimed no artistic talent except in gardening. She creates art via plants. That, I think, makes her an artist.

Artist Marsha Kitchel paints on the patio.

Artist Marsha Kitchel paints on the patio.

On the backyard patio, another artist had set up an easel to create en plein air. I watched as Marsha Kitchel daubed oils, recreating one of Elizabeth’s hanging baskets.

Marsha was painting the basket in the background.

Marsha was painting the basket in the background, just to the right of her easel.

I love this concept of incorporating artists and their work into garden tours. It makes sense as an unassuming way to introduce artists to the public. Other artists in the Northfield Garden Club Tour were Derrin D. O’Connell, Judy Saye-Willis, Tom Willis, James Wilson and Dick Zawacki.

I failed to check Elizabeth's cheat sheet to identify these lovely peach flowers. Anyone know their identity?

I failed to check Elizabeth’s cheat sheet to identify these lovely peach flowers. Anyone know their identity?

BONUS PHOTOS:

This area features a raised vegetable garden.

This area features a raised vegetable garden.

Here's a close-up of the sculpture in the photo above.

Here’s a close-up of the sculpture in the photo above.

This turtle tucked next to a pot of ivy and other plants belonged to Elizabeth's mother.

This turtle tucked next to a pot of ivy and other plants belonged to Elizabeth’s mother.

FYI: Click here and here for previous posts from the Northfield Garden Club 2014 Garden Tour. And watch for additional posts.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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12 Responses to “Garden art: In planting & in painting”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Another really neat place to tour. This really was a great garden tour that they put on, wasn’t it??

  2. Jackie Says:

    Another lovely garden tour! I like the artist painting, wish I was that talented. I noticed the Holly Hocks in the 3rd to the last picture….they always remind me of my grandma’s farm and my mom’s Holly Hock dolls 🙂

  3. Lanae Says:

    The peachy colored flower is a Thunbergia or black eyed susan vine. The vine by the turtle is a Swedish ivy. I to like the art being done in the garden as we toured the gardens in Red Wing on the same weekend as Northfield held theirs. Wish Waseca Art Center would do the same for Waseca Garden Club walk which is
    August 3, 1:00-5:00. Start early as they are spread out. No charge but a free will donation is accepted.

    • Thanks, floral designer sister of mine, for identifying the peach colored flowers. I knew you would know.

      I think adding art to the garden tours is a fairly new idea, at least around here. You should suggest this to the Waseca Art Center. I love the bonus of art in gardens.

      Readers, my sister’s gardens were featured on the Waseca garden tour a few years ago.

  4. Beautiful Gardens and Art – love it – thanks so much for sharing – love your captures 🙂 Happy Thursday!

  5. Hilary Says:

    such amazing flowers – they are beautiful!

  6. Thread crazy Says:

    Audrey, those peach colored flowers look like Thunbergia, which we call “black eye Susan” here. I have a large pot of them on the back porch…my color is the typical yellow with black eyes. What a beautiful garden to tour and love those Hydrangeas as they remind me of ones my Mom used to grow.

    • You are correct on the peach flowers. My floral designer sister already identified them in an earlier comment.

      You should see my front yard hydrangea. They are massive and sprawling and I absolutely love the old-fashioned look.


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