At this summer's Garden Bloggers' Fling, each day built on the last, with surprises around every corner and at every destination. (See day one summary here and day two summary here.) We spent day three primarily in St. Paul, ending with our final garden in the "wilds of Wisconsin."
Our first stop was the Como Park Japanese Garden and Conservatory, described by Fling organizers as the "go-to refuge from the winter cold" for Twin Cities residents.
An impressive bonsai collection greeted us near the entrance. While I don't practice bonsai, the displays always capture my curiosity. How do they do this so well?
Como Park also has an impressive Japanese garden. The City of Nagasaki presented St. Paul with plans for the garden in 1977, to honor the bond the two cities forged in 1955, becoming the first sister-city partnership established between an Asian and an American city. (Click on the photo to read more about it.)
Quite an impressive conservatory: The 64-foot crystal dome houses more than 150 tropical palms and cycad species.
On our way in and out of Como Park, we were captivated by the water plants and magic of the reflecting pond. Every angle provided a new view.
Next, we headed to the home of garden writer Marge Hols, which is about two blocks from Minnesota's Governor's Mansion.
The fencing and gardens at the entrance complemented the architecture of this stately home.
Marge's was a comfortable garden, with artfully placed obelisks, trellises, and plantings. Bee Balms (Monarda spp.) were in full bloom during the Fling, adding color and character.
I enjoyed this path that combined attractive flagstones with mixed plantings of low-growing ground covers.
Plantings along a metal fence spilled through on both sides--a simple but beautiful effect.
Next, we headed for Lee and Jerry Shannon's garden, named one of the five best gardens in the Twin Cities.
An urban garden that looked like a typical bungalow from the front, the Shannon's garden featured countless little treasures in a "secret" garden in the back--two-thirds of an acre filled with whimsical decorations, amazing plants, and creative touches.
It was impossible to ignore this orange Oriental Lily and purple Penstemon pairing.
As always, the 'Summer Beauty' Alliums were a hit with gardeners and pollinators, alike.
It was nice to see colorful peppers used as ornamentals and edibles.
The Shannons shared their unique recipe for their hypertufa containers, filled with miniature plants, herbs, succulents, and semi-succulents.
The herbs whetted our appetites--good timing, because our next activity was lunch, hosted by Bailey Nurseries.
After lunch, we toured their impressive Display and Collection Gardens.
We saw great examples of how to design pathways, sitting areas, and planting arrangements.
More masses of Alliums and Monardas ... gorgeous.
'Tiger Eyes' Sumac paired well with 'Royal Purple' Smokebush.
Our final Minnesota garden tour was at Squire House Gardens in Afton. The independently owned garden shop, located in an old historic house, is surrounded by formal and casual gardens.
This pond, surrounded by potted plants and statuaries, offered inspiration.
I was mesmerized by the Great Black Wasps picnicking on the Sea Holly (Eryngium).
Then we headed across the border to Wouterina "Riana" de Raad's Concrete Mosaic Sculpture Garden, near Beldenville, Wis.
Words and a few photos really can't do this garden justice. Riana, herself, along with a friend gave us a tour of her whimsical property filled with one-of-a kind mosaics and an amazing collection of plants.
She used pebbles as mosaics for some pieces, such as this garden chair.
Others incorporated ceramics, glass, shells, and other fascinating shards of spent objects. I particularly enjoyed the mosaic planters like this one, welcoming a wee bird's nest.
This large planter looked fabulous stuffed with foliage of various colors, shapes, and forms.
It was nifty to see some of Riana's future projects in wire mesh form.
Even the simple touches, like the heart on this bench, were strikingly lovely.
My favorite pieces were Riana's deeply personal creations, like this sculpture depicting a loving mother and child, which she created during a trying time.
And this depiction of Riana pledging her dedication as caretaker of her magical garden.
If you live anywhere near Beldenville, Wis., a visit to Riana's sculpture garden is definitely worth the trip!
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Thanks to all the organizers, sponsors, gardeners, and homeowners for a wonderful day three at the Garden Bloggers' Fling! For more excellent posts from the 2016 event, visit the Fling website.
|Photo by Diane McGann|
Most of all, thanks to my fellow bloggers and Fling attendees for your smiles, support, and friendship. Until we meet again ...
Next year's Fling will be held in the Capital Region--Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland. Tammy of Casa Mariposa will be the host. For more information, visit the Fling website.