Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In search of spring inside a Faribault greenhouse April 20, 2018

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.


BLOCKS FROM MY FARIBAULT HOME, spring bursts in vibrant hues, a visual delight for winter weary eyes.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.


I need to stop at Donahue’s Greenhouse, which opened for the season just a day prior to our recent three-day historic blizzard. I missed the “Mimosa Morning & More” event there during the winter storm. Shucks. I wasn’t thinking of flowers or anything tropical on April 14.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.


But now I am. And it’s time to take a break from all the cold and snow and step into spring, or at least the illusion of spring.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.


At Donahue’s I can meander through rows and rows and rows of potted blooms.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.


Tables packed with colorful flowers fill the Faribault Garden Center during a 2012 visit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.


Hot pink geraniums initially caught my eye during a 2012 visit to Faribault Garden Center. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Or I can stop by Faribault Garden Center and delight in the geraniums, petunias and other plants thriving in the balmy warmth of a greenhouse.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.


I can mentally immerse myself in a warmer season, a warmer place. Yes, that’s exactly what I need to pull myself from this winter funk.

TELL ME: If you live in a cold weather state like Minnesota, how do you cope with a winter that’s been way too long, cold and snowy?


Twiehoff Gardens along St. Paul Road in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


NOTE: Garden lovers can also shop at several other Faribault garden centers for plants. Those include Farmer Seed & Nursery, Northstar Seed & Nursery and Twiehoff Gardens & Nursery

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Boots and blooms April 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:29 PM
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IF YOU ARE AN ELEMENTARY school student of the 1960s, like me, you can relate to this post. If you are not, pretend that you are and imagine sitting at your desk, mimeographed math worksheet and box of eight thick Crayola crayons at your fingertips.

Your teacher, we’ll call her Mrs. Olson, instructs you to circle the one item among the pictures that does not belong.

You pull a nubby green crayon from the box of colors because green is your favorite. You’re pretty sure you can use green because Mrs. Olson has not instructed you otherwise. You wish to be obedient.

You study the pictures and crook your elbow around your paper. David is seated across the aisle and you have caught him several times peeking at your math worksheets. Mrs. Olson does not like cheaters. Neither do you.

You study the five images.


Blooms, purple


Blooms, pink

Blooms, blue

Without hesitation, you circle the second picture of the single purple bloom.

The next day Mrs. Olson returns your paper with an “S+” and a smiley face scrawled beside your name.

DEAR READERS, would you have circled the single bloom? I expect most of you would have drawn a circle around the boots. But, remember, this is a math worksheet. We are learning numbers. All of the pictures, with the exception of the purple bloom, show multiples.

I assure you, this marks a rare occasion when I will teach you a math lesson, for I struggled mightily with numbers and still do.

THESE EDITED PHOTOS were taken at Donahue’s Greenhouse in Faribault. I am still wondering how those boots fit in among all those flowers at Donahue’s.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Yes, Minnesota, there really is a spring April 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:44 AM
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ALLOW ME TO WEAVE a magical photo essay today, to sprinkle fairy dust into your eyes, to transport you from the snowy Minnesota landscape into a place of wondrous beauty and warmth.

If you truly believe, just as Virginia believed in Santa Claus, you will see spring.

Ready? Let’s go.

Greenhouse, fairy

A little fairy dust in the eyes

Greenhouse, exterior

and we enter the magical world of spring inside Donahue’s Greenhouse in Faribault.

Greenhouse, flowers and ferns

Here a spell is cast upon winter weary Minnesotans, some of whom load their carts with plants, unable to resist the overpowering pull of flowers in bloom.

 Greenhouse, yellow bloom

Blossoms unfurl, fooled into spring by the warmth of the greenhouse, the rare sunshine which graces this April day.

Greenhouse, gazing ball and geraniums

Gazing into the future, gardeners envision spring

Greenhouse, birds

with nesting birds

Greenhouse, seed packets

and soil warm enough to embrace seeds.

Greenhouse, blue flowers

They imagine delicate buds unfurling into graceful blossoms,

Greenhouse, broad view

defying winter in bursts of vibrant hues.

Greenhouse, close-up flowers and ferns

Everywhere, in this magical place, the sweet promise of spring prevails,

Greenhouse, baby sleeping

except on a shelf where fantasy vanishes in the face of truth.

Spring, my dear Minnesotans, exists only in our dreams.

THIS MORNING WE AWOKE to “a bunch of snow” (my husband’s measurement) here in Faribault, snow which began falling around 4 p.m. Monday and was still coming down when I went to bed around 11 p.m.  Snowfall guesstimate would be around six inches. The landscape looks similar to this scene (click here) from last Thursday, except with even more snow. Power lines and trees are frosted with the heavy, wet snow. And for awhile last night, probably less than 15 minutes, the power was off in my neighborhood.

The scene outside my office this morning, dear readers, looks nothing like spring and exactly like winter.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling