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 IV: Artscapes, landscapes & even a vineyard July 15, 2016

Like a scene out of a storybook.

Like a scene out of a storybook.

I CAN’T BEGIN TO IMAGINE the time invested in establishing the flowerbeds, the artscapes, the vegetable gardens, the vineyard, the everything that makes DeAnn and Randy Knish’s property so uniquely impressive.

Garden tour guests visit under a towering oak.

Garden tour guests visit under a towering oak on a brilliantly sunny summer afternoon.

Situated west of Faribault, this rural acreage is surrounded by trees that include a sprawling oak in the front yard and a two-centuries-plus aged walnut in woods bordering a creek. The waterway runs pea soup green from nearby Roberds Lake.

Shrub sculptures and art divide vegetable gardens.

Shrub sculptures, art and a path divide vegetable gardens.

When I arrived at the Knish property during a recent The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Full Belly, a Faribault soup kitchen, I didn’t know where to begin exploring. There was so much to see:

Sculptures abound in the gardens.

Sculptures abound in the gardens.

Perennials fill flowerbeds.

Strategically placed art enhances perennial beds.

A mirror

A mosaic framed mirror and gnomes are incorporated into the plantings.

A lily bursts a brilliant hue into the gardens.

A lily bursts a brilliant hue into the gardens.

Balls add a playfulness to perennial beds throughout the landscaping.

Balls add a playfulness to perennial beds throughout the landscaping.

This happy elfin face made me smile.

This happy elfin face in a petunia bed makes me smile.

Old-fashioned Holly Hocks rise to the summer sky.

Old-fashioned Holly Hocks rise to the summer sky.

The oversized jacks and balls draw the eye to a place to kick back on Adrionack chairs.

The oversized jacks and balls draw the eye to an inviting spot to kick back on Adirondack chairs.

I set my camera on the ground to photograph this perspective of a fairy garden.

I set my camera on the ground to photograph this perspective of a fairy garden.

Once I finished my self-guided tour and photo shoot of artscapes and flowerbeds, I boarded a golf cart for a ride across the creek and up a hill to the two-acre vineyard.

Touring the vineyard.

Touring the vineyard.

Here, the Knishes grow red grapes for Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls about 30 miles to the northeast. Their grapes go into GoGo Red wine, a pound of grapes per bottle.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources inspected this tree and estimates its age at 200-225 years, one of the oldest walnut trees in Rice County.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources inspected this tree and estimates its age at 200-225 years, one of the oldest walnut trees in Rice County.

While there was no wine to sample, I was pleased to learn of the Faribault connection to a notable regional winery. And I was pleased also for the opportunity to tour this beautiful place in the country on an equally beautiful summer Sunday afternoon in southern Minnesota.

FYI: Please check back for my final post in this five-part garden tour series.

 

Garden Tour III: A rural retreat in Cannon City July 11, 2016

Outbuildings dot the Glendes' rural property.

Outbuildings dot the Glendes’ rural property.

I COULD BE SO HAPPY living on Debbie and Mike Glende’s property in Cannon City. It’s peaceful, lovely and tranquil in a definitive rural sense.

An electric fence keeps the donkeys penned in the pasture.

An electric fence keeps the donkeys penned in the pasture.

Not exactly a hobby farm, although there are donkeys, this seems more rural retreat.

Delphiniums sway in the breeze inside a fenced vegetable garden.

Delphiniums sway in the breeze inside a fenced vegetable garden.

Lush green plants and flowers.

A pond, surrounded by lush plants, is situated under shade trees next to the house.

A pond, surrounded by lush plants, is situated under shade trees next to the house.

Pond.

Rustic fencing surrounds the vegetable garden.

Rustic fencing surrounds the vegetable garden.

Garden surrounded by rustic weathered fencing.

I opened the aged screen door on an outbuilding to discover this 50s style retreat.

I opened the aged screen door on an outbuilding to discover this 50s style retreat.

An outbuilding styled in 1950s décor.

Farm themed decor fits this corn crib turned fire pit gathering area.

Farm themed decor fits this corn crib turned fire pit gathering area.

A wire grain bin converted into a comfortable gathering spot for an evening campfire.

 

Glende garden, 51 barn and windmill

 

An aged red barn and windmill.

Plants spill from a rustic piece of farm equipment.

Artfully arranged plants spill from a rustic piece of farm equipment.

I didn’t want to leave the Glendes’ place while on a recent Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Fully Bell, a soup kitchen in nearby Faribault. Even the cat, a black stray that followed me, wrapping around my legs, seemed to want me to stay. I wish. Debbie offered the cat.

This building houses the 1950s style retreat.

This building houses the 1950s style retreat.

I could live here. I imagined the 50s retreat as a secluded place to write. My office.

This sweet little building was moved here from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus in Faribault. For now, it's a storage space.

This sweet little building was moved here from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus in Faribault. For now, it’s a storage space.

Or the lovely columned white building moved here from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault would work, too, for my writer’s retreat.

Rustic rural art near the MSAD building.

Rustic rural art near the MSAD building.

As I roamed the Glendes’ land, I was reminded of my rural roots. Vintage farm machinery and equipment are planted like works of art among the farm buildings. It takes an artist’s and gardener’s hands to make this all come together—to create this rural retreat that is more than visually appealing, but also everyday practical. This couple succeeded. I wanted to stay until the stars emerged and flames danced in the fire pit.

BONUS PHOTOS:

A sign inside the outhouse reads:

A sign inside the outhouse reads: “Who cut one?”

Flower art provides a jolt of color.

Flower art provides a jolt of color.

Another rustic style planting.

Another rustic style planting.

So poetically lovely this blue heron in the pond.

So poetically lovely this blue heron in the pond.

Even the bird feeder fits the rural theme.

Even the bird feeder fits the rural theme.

FYI: Please check back as I continue my garden tour series. Click here to read my first entry and then click here to read about another garden I toured.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Garden tour II: Hosta haven in the woods June 30, 2016

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Hostas thrive in the full and dappled shade of the McAdam's yard.

Hostas and lilies thrive in the full and dappled shade of the McAdams’ wooded yard.

EDGED BY WOODS and in the woods, Rita and Colin McAdam’s property perched atop a hill overlooking nearby French Lake west of Faribault offers a shady respite in the heat of the mid-day summer sun.

Vehicles exit the McAdam property along a narrow wooded lane.

Vehicles exit the McAdam property along a narrow wooded lane.

On this June afternoon, I’m touring this couple’s land as part of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour Garden and Landscape Tour benefiting Full Belly, a local “soup kitchen.”

An inspiring message in garden art.

An inspiring message placed next to lilies.

Rita welcomes me and offers a personal tour of her outdoor retreat 40 years in the making. “If you like digging in the dirt…” her voice trails.

A most impressive hosta with elephant ear sized leaves.

A most impressive hosta with elephant ear sized leaves.

I opt, though, to wander at my own pace through this shaded yard where hostas dominate. Here I see not only everyday common hostas, but a vast variety including one with leaves as large as an elephant’s ears.

Everywhere are multiple varieties of hosta.

Everywhere are multiple varieties of hosta.

And so I meander because the McAdams’ place calls for a slow pace. There’s so much to notice in the abundance of art tucked among plants. The art is an eclectic mix of whatever seemed to catch Rita’s fancy. Statues of deer, a rabbit, a duck, angels…a Road Runner whirly-gig…

A jolt of humor.

A jolt of humor.

The garden art is simultaneously quirky and charming, humorous and inspiring. No unified theme prevails. But it is what it should be—the result of four decades of work at Rita and Colin’s place.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Kitschy art propped against a tree.

Kitschy art propped against a tree.

My favorite sculpture in the McAdam yard.

My favorite sculpture in the McAdam yard. The tiny violets mimic the fawn’s spots.

The sun sculpture bursts color into the shade.

The sun sculpture bursts color into the shade.

A sweet surprise of angels on a ledge next to lilies.

A sweet surprise of angels on a ledge next to lilies.

Another of my favorite sculptures tucked by the hosta.

Another of my favorite sculptures tucked by the hosta.

Staged along the edge of the driveway/parking area.

Staged along the edge of the driveway/parking area.

This lizard sculpture holds jelly, for the birds I presume.

This lizard sculpture holds jelly, for the birds I presume.

FYI: Check back again as I continue my garden tour series. Click here to read my first garden tour post.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

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

 

Northwoods style Northfield garden features eclectic art July 25, 2014

Bird art perched on a front yard rock.

Bird art perched on a front yard rock.

AFTER SLIDING MY FINGERTIPS into bird poop while photographing a bird sculpture duo perched on a rock, I determined to be more watchful.

But often I get so lost in what I’m doing that I don’t notice the obvious. Like poop. Bird or dog.

A portion of the shady back yard.

A portion of the shady backyard.

Yet, in a northwoods style yard situated along a quiet residential street in Northfield far from the wilds of northern Minnesota, it didn’t take long for me to determine property owners Barry and Kerry Cipra have created gardens that call for focus.

At first glance, I thought this simply a woman draped in beaded necklaces.

At first glance, I thought this simply a woman draped in beaded necklaces.

On a second focused look, I saw this sculpture is part woman, part cat, "The Cat Lady."

On a second focused look, I saw this sculpture is part woman, part cat, aka “The Cat Lady.”

Fail to focus and you may miss some of the eclectic art incorporated into a property defined by six mature white pines, boulders and rocks, but no grass.

Beautiful towering pines fill the property.

Beautiful pines tower over the property.

No grass. Rather, pine needles layer the ground, creating a cushy carpet.

The garden art includes original sculptures by Jennifer Wolcott.

The garden art includes original sculptures by Jennifer Wolcott.

I’ve never seen a yard quite as northwoods style unique as this one. Here the greenery of shade-loving plants like ferns and hosta provide a neutral backdrop for quirky and one-of-a-kind sculptures.

Art pops with color.

Art pops with color.

Art infuses color and interest.

Yes, that's a goat hiding in the greenery.

Yes, that’s a goat hiding in the greenery.

See for yourself, as viewed through my camera lens. Just remember to focus.

I had a little fun pairing my foot with garden art on the back steps.

I had a little fun pairing my foot with garden art on the back steps. Yes, I should polish my toenails.

Sea life in the backyard.

Sea life in the backyard. Maybe northerns or walleyes would be more appropriate for this Minnesota garden.

Washtub coleus add a spot of color in a sideyard space next to the house.

Washtub coleus add a spot of color in a sideyard space next to the house.

A rustic arbor and rocks define the front yard created by Switzer Landscaping.

A rustic arbor, Jennifer Wolcott sculptures and rocks define the front yard created by Switzers’ Landscaping.

BONUS PHOTO: Woodcarver Dick Zawacki was the featured artist in the Cipra garden. He created this life-like mountain lion:

Dick Zawacki says this is one of his favorite carvings, so realistic it stopped a dog in its tracks.

Dick Zawacki says this is one of his favorite carvings, so realistic it stopped a dog in its tracks.

FYI: The Cipras’ property was one of six featured on the recent Northfield Garden Club 2014 Garden Tour. Click here to read previous posts from the tour and check back for one final garden tour.

© Copyright 2014 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