Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Garden tour V: A little bit of Eden on a corner lot in Faribault August 5, 2016

I’D LOVE TO HAVE THE YARD of Cindy and Dick Lawson.

Bee balm jolts color into the front yard.

Bee balm jolts color into the front yard.

Sunny spaces bloom bright with flowers.

Shade loving plants thrive under a tree next to a stream.

Shade loving plants thrive under a tree next to a stream/waterfall.

Lush greenery fills shady spots.

 

Lawson garden, 138 garden

 

A garden grows thick with vegetables.

 

A stream/waterfall/pond is a backyard focal point.

A stream/waterfall/pond is a backyard focal point.

But, best of all, two water features—one in the front yard, the other in the back—soothe visually and mentally. Water has a way of doing that.

Situated on a busy street corner in southwest Faribault, this property seems miles away from the traffic that passes en route to and from Jefferson Elementary School and to other destinations along arterial Prairie Avenue. The Lawsons, with the help of family, have created this private oasis in the city using fencing, trees, plants and water. It’s a beautiful retreat with minimal lawn.

Annuals grow in rock water columns in the sunny front yard.

Annuals and water spill from rock columns in the sunny front yard.

Fortunately for the Lawsons, their son-in-law, Jake Langeslag, owns Aqua Eden, a Faribault-based waterscape company. Thus the backyard stream and pond and the front yard rock water columns.

Not until I met Cindy and Dick during the recent Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Full Belly, a Faribault soup kitchen, did I know of the relationship to Jake and his wife, Amanda. The younger couple and their children attend my church. It was a delight to meet Amanda’s parents in their lovely backyard.

 

Lawson garden, 137 scripture on trellis

 

I especially appreciate the Scripture printed above the garden gate entry: “And God said, Let the earth put forth tender vegetation…” The bible verse seems fitting for this corner of paradise, this Garden of Eden.

FYI: This concludes my series from The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Garden tour I: Couple masters the art of landscaping June 29, 2016

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Siegfried garden, 4 lily

 

LOVELY LILIES LEAN.

 

Siegfried garden, 23 clematis, etc.

 

Clematis cascade.

Sixty to seventy fish (guppies and koi) swim in the Siegfrieds' pond.

Sixty to seventy fish (guppies and koi) swim in the Siegfrieds’ pond.

Captive koi circle.

And the sun blazes brilliant on a Sunday summer afternoon in the yard of Karrie and Mike Siegfried.

Pond, pergola and bridge create a focal point in the yard.

Pond, pergola and bridge create a focal point in the yard.

The couple has created an outdoor retreat just off busy Minnesota State Highway 3 on the northern edge of Faribault. I admire the property every time I pass by. But on this late June day, I view the yard up close while on the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Full Belly, a local soup kitchen.

The Prickly Pear Cactus, which will winter over in Minnesota (and is native to sections of southwestern Minnesota) grows in the Southwest Garden. Mike nearly gave up on the plant ever bloomig

The Prickly Pear Cactus, which will winter over in Minnesota (and is native to sections of southwestern Minnesota) grows in the Southwest Garden. Mike nearly gave up on the plant. But this year it bloomed.

This spacious yard features everything from ponds to shade gardens to a Southwest garden complete with cacti to a lawn sprawling enough for a wedding (Karrie’s son’s).

Dubbed the Southwest Garden, this plot features cacti and Southwest style pottery.

Dubbed the Southwest Garden, this plot features cacti and Southwest style pottery.

Perennials like clematis, coral bells, lamb’s ears, lilies and more fill borders and soften fence lines. Petunias, geraniums and other annuals spill from pots. Clumps of strategically placed ornamental grasses rise and sway, adding visual interest. Just like the art created by Mike.

Mike's copper leaf art.

Mike’s copper leaf and acorn art.

A plumber by trade, Mike took an interest in copper art after attending the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. In 2013, he opened an etsy shop, Mystical Copper. He crafts copper into mostly fish and butterflies, but also does custom pieces. I didn’t ask about the intricacies. But the art involves pounding and then heating the copper to get variations in color.

Mike's copper walleye.

Mike’s copper walleye.

Mike’s one-of-a-kind art enhances the Siegfrieds’ already impressive landscaping. Three patches of tall ornamental grasses front an oversized copper walleye attached to a fence. The scene mimics a lake setting. It takes an artist’s eye and a gardener’s knowledge to create such a vignette.

Shadow the cat greeted garden tour visitors.

Shadow the cat greeted garden tour visitors.

In the Siegfried’s yard, art and plants blend artfully and beautifully into this escape, this retreat, this lovely place bordering a busy Minnesota highway.

FYI: Check back for more stories and photos from gardens featured on the Garden and Landscape Tour. Click here to read my first post about Fully Belly.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Beyond filling bellies at a Faribault “soup kitchen” June 28, 2016

A sign in front of the church advertises the free meals served here twice a week.

A sign in front of the church advertises the free meals served here twice a week.

FOR DONNA STROHKIRCH, finding funding for Full Belly based out of Faribault’s Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour is an ongoing effort. Feeding the 60 -70 people who come for the non-profit’s free meals on a Wednesday evening costs about $100.

The Guild House dining room and kitchen. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

The Guild House dining room and kitchen. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo from an unrelated event.

It is, says Donna—meal planner, shopper, cook, greeter and so much more—a miracle that the kitchen continues to operate. She’s already had to trim back from serving three meals weekly to just once a week. And even though she’s dipped into her Social Security income to provide for those in need, this seventy-something woman remains prayerfully optimistic. God always provides, she says. With a smile.

The beautifully-designed tickets, complete with directions to the gardens on the back.

The beautifully-designed tickets, complete with directions to the gardens on the back.

Sunday afternoon, Full Belly benefited from a Cathedral-organized Garden and Landscape Tour. I talked with Donna about her meal ministry after touring six Faribault area gardens on a brilliantly sunny and beautiful summer afternoon in southern Minnesota.

The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour is the first Episcopal church in the U.S. to be built as a cathedral. Construction began in 1862 and was completed in 1869.

The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour is the first Episcopal church in the U.S. to be built as a cathedral. Construction began in 1862 and was completed in 1869. It attracts lots of visitors interested in this historic building.

Inside the air conditioned space connecting the Cathedral and Guild House, Donna answered my questions between welcoming guests to a dessert table. “It’s always been my mission to have a soup kitchen,” she says, referencing the extensive poverty she witnessed in Alaska before moving to Minnesota three years ago. Shortly thereafter, with the support of family, she started Fully Belly. It’s truly a family affair with a daughter-in-law, grandkids and several unpaid volunteers assisting Donna.

Beautiful gardens, complete with benches, grace the area that connects the cathedral to the Guild House.

Beautiful gardens, complete with benches, grace the area that connects the Cathedral to the historic Guild House, left.

They serve full, well-balanced meals, not just soup, to anyone in need. Most diners are elderly, living on fixed incomes. “Food is me,” says Donna, who comes with a broad background in the food profession. “Love and food kind of go together.”

Lovely lilies in a side garden remind me of

Lovely lilies in a Cathedral side garden remind me of Matthew 6:28, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin.”

It’s clear from our brief conversation that Donna’s purpose extends beyond filling empty bellies. “It’s my mission from God to help people. I’ve always taken care of people,” she says. Full Belly also provides much-needed fellowship. It is that social aspect, that showing love to others, that food for the soul, which fuels Donna’s passion for feeding others a free meal once a week. She mingles with her dinner guests, talks to them, makes them feel welcome.

Flowers grow alongside the Cathedral and Guild House and in expansive beds.

Flowers grow alongside the Cathedral and Guild House and in expansive beds.

Donna is clearly passionate about feeding the hungry in the Faribault community. And then she mentioned one more thing: She’s always wanted to go on a mission trip. But she lacks money for such a trip and she’s dealing with health issues. Yet, she seems determined. I expect, as she has with Full Belly, that Donna will find a way to finance a mission trip, fulfilling what she views as her life’s mission—to help people.

FYI: Click here to learn more about Full Belly, including information on how you can support this meal ministry. Full Belly serves a free meal from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Wednesday evenings at the Cathedral Guild House, behind the church (515 Second Avenue Northwest) near downtown Faribault.

The Community Cathedral Cafe also serves free meals at the Cathedral Guild House from 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

Check back as I take you to the gardens featured on the Fully Belly fundraiser garden tour.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling