Highlights of the Minneapolis Fling

So I have been to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area about a thousand times. We have a son living in St. Paul, plus my brother and an old college friend live in Minneapolis. We felt that we had seen most of what there was to see. So our expectations for this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling were modest.

Plus, the phrase “Minneapolis Fling” sounds a little incongruous, like “North Dakota Bacchanal”.

Turk’s Cap Lilies at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Oh, but we were wrong to be skeptical. Thanks to the outstanding work of the (uncompensated) organizers, we found that there were a great many gardens in the Twin Cities we didn’t know about. And so many were full of delightful surprises and enchanting beauty.

Flingers in the flowery oak savanna: Lift your cameras on high!

For now I just want to cover a few of the best parts of the Fling program. I intend to cover the various gardens in greater depth after we slide into the long dark Chicago winter.

First, there was the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, a 15 acre native plant preserve. The Garden includes wetland, forest and oak savanna. Founded in 1907, it’s one of the first gardens of its kind. Summer blooms filled the open areas with yellow, orange, and white.

Lotus flowers (I think) at Como Park.

There was also the conservatory and adjoining gardens at Como Park. We liked the aquatic gardens best. We were so enthralled with the water lilies and the conservatory that we didn’t even visit the Japanese Garden.

Giant Assassin Bug at the Minnesota Arboretum.

We saw just a tiny slice of the Minnesota Arboretum, but what we did see made us determined to return for more. We especially loved the giant wooden insects, like this Assassin Bug.

Garden of Lee and Jerry Shannon

We visited a number of wonderful private gardens, but the garden of Lee and Jerry Shannon left us almost speechless. The Shannons managed to acquire land adjoining their city lot, so that their garden goes on and on – it seems to be half a dozen gardens in one, all of it lovingly cared for.

The Shannons have actually accomplished a fantasy that Judy and I frequently indulge in, namely extending our garden into the neighbors’ yards – and they’ve done it legally and without coercion.


Finally, there was the Mosaic Sculpture Park of artist Woutrina DeRaad. This is actually a few miles over the state line in Wisconsin. The sculptures are made of wire mesh, concrete, and bits of glass and ceramic. They are integrated into a garden that is lush and colorful.


It reminded me somewhat of the folk art of Watts Towers. However, while Watts Towers is solemn, Woutrina  DeRaad’s garden is mischievous and joyful.

There was a great deal more, and I have something close to a thousand of Judy’s photographs to sort through. More to come when the weather cools!

56 Comments on “Highlights of the Minneapolis Fling”

  1. Well, I love learning about a new place, and I know nothing about Minneapolis,(apart from Garrison Keillor of course) so I’ll enjoy seeing the gardens through your blog, over time. The gardens so far look very lush and green and the sculptures are wonderfully distinctive too.

  2. That last sculpture just made me smile:) I enjoyed all the postings on Facebook by Flingers–looks like you saw some amazing gardens. Looking forward to seeing all these gardens in more detail–something to get us through the depths of winter! I so wish I could have gone, but I had a chance to go to D.C. instead, which was my first time there. Now I want to go back to D.C. to see everything I missed–hmm, sounds like next year’s Fling is a definite possibility!

  3. I thought of going to this fling but could not go at the last moment. Perhaps next year. I think I will like the sculpture garden best (from whatever I can gather from your pictures and writings). It seems a magical place.

    Hmmm…how do you all get to use your neighbors’s property :-)?

  4. Hello Jason, it sounds like you had an unexpectedly good time in the Minneapolis Fling. I like the sound of the garden that was extended through purchasing acquiring land. I wondered if that would be something I would wish for here, but I think the plot we have (and the state it is in) is enough work to be getting on with!

  5. I love the bug and last sculpture too, what fun. I’m also enjoying the picture of you illegally coercing your neighbour into letting you have part of his garden. It would make a wonderfully original script for a Chicago Gangster movie.

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