Spring showed up late this year, but that didn't deter hardy Northern gardeners, who showered us with nearly 400 entries in our annual Beautiful Gardens contest.
That's a record, folks — almost triple the number we received last year and doubling the previous record, set in 2010.
With so many beautiful gardens, it took a lot of time to review all the entries, and the competition was particularly fierce this year. But ultimately, a panel of judges narrowed the field to the following six winners:
1. Cordelia Anderson and John Humleker have packed a lot of garden into their small city lot in Minneapolis. In addition to a front-yard waterfall and two ponds, their garden includes a "Hobbit House" and even a "Little Library."
2. Jon Uecker and Barry Lau have land to spare — almost 2 acres in Anoka. They've covered it with an English-style garden featuring many garden beds, specimen trees and three water features.
3. Edible landscapes are one of the hottest trends in horticulture, but Eileen Troxel was way ahead of the curve. Her formal vegetable garden in St. Paul is as pretty as it is productive, providing food for her summer table and fodder for her food blog.
4. There are a lot of different gardens at Charlie and Barb Green's home in Edina, but they all work together to create a harmonious whole. Together the couple tend an iris garden, a hosta garden, a knot garden, a rain garden, a rock garden and a labyrinth.
5. Mike and Mary Kulseth started their garden in 1999 with one small perennial bed. But they kept going. Their woodland setting in Andover has now expanded into 4,000 square feet of flower gardens, plus two koi ponds with streams and waterfalls.
6. Space is at a premium for Alice Menge, who tends a typical city lot in St. Paul with help from her husband, Richard Sherwood. But she's made the most of their small site, creating an oasis of plants, trees, fountains, stone paths and animal life, all sheltered by a 10-foot hedge.
Watch for stories and photos featuring the winning gardens in coming issues of Variety Home + Garden. And a big thank you to all our readers who took the time to nominate a garden this year. □