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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!