The growing season got off to a late start this year, but local gardeners made up for lost time — judging from the many stunning landscapes nominated in the Star Tribune’s annual Beautiful Gardens contest. We received more than 150 entries, ranging from tiny urban plots to acres of gardens. They reflected a wide range of styles, from formal to casual to edible.
A panel of seven judges, including a master gardener, reviewed the entries to select the following six winners:
1. Deb Dunn-Silis, a recently retired science teacher, has spent more than three decades tending her garden in Lakeville. The garden has become so popular with her students over the years that they’ve chosen it as a site for countless prom, homecoming and graduation photos — and even a wedding.
2. Most gardeners put the ornamental plants in the front yard and the edible plants in the back. But Joyce Johannson and Brian MacDonald flipped the formula. Their Minneapolis yard has more sun up front, so that’s where they grow vegetables, herbs and fruit. The shadier back yard is full of flowering perennials, foliage plants and an orchid collection.
3. Blessed with a Bloomington back yard that borders a wildlife refuge, Nancy Reichert-Sisson has spent 17 years creating a tranquil garden oasis.
4. Artist Rianna, aka Wouterina deRaad, gardens at a farm near River Falls, Wis., where she grows both flowers and vegetables — accented by more than 40 of her life-size mosaic sculptures.
5. Nancy and Dan Engebretson’s neighbors in Elysian, Minn., are the beneficiaries of the couple’s garden know-how. On commonly owned land at their townhouse development, they’ve created an expansive landscape that includes a waterfall, a pond, a memorial garden and color-coded companion plantings.
6. There’s a lot to look at in Jim and Sally Strand’s garden in Plymouth. Their Asian-inspired landscape features 23 different garden areas, some accented with Chinese “mudmen” figures, an early variation on today’s fairy-garden craze.
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 time to nominate a garden this year.