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Continued: Beautiful Gardens: A fanciful landscape in a small Minneapolis lot

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 25, 2014 - 5:06 PM

“I thought it would be fun to build it big enough to sit inside,” said John Humleker, who painted the roof teal blue and the door pumpkin orange. It’s become Sadie’s favorite reading nook.

Front-yard fairy tale

Sadie knew her parents wouldn’t stop with the back yard.

“The garden’s not insane — but my parents are,” she said.

So she wasn’t surprised when they turned the front yard into a whimsical land of flowing water, an illuminated stone fairy house and mini alpine plant vignettes.

“We never had a plan,” said Humleker. “It started with a curved stone bench made by a local couple.” Soon they erected a rock wall fountain and planted a shade hosta garden under a birch tree.

The yard’s natural slope drove the design of an impressive 40-foot-long waterfall, which disappears into the sidewalk at the bottom. For the garden retaining wall, the couple used Rock-on-a-Roll, a flexible material that has the look and texture of stone. “You can bend it to hide the liner and help shape the pond, too,” said Anderson.

To complete the garden’s community spirit, Humleker built a Little Free Library for book sharing, using recycled wood.

“It’s nice to have these magical spaces that catch your eye,” said Anderson. “But they shouldn’t compete with the nature of the water, flowers and grasses.”

Humleker and Anderson, who weren’t raised by gardeners, have gradually learned the fine points of design and plant selection through instinct and trial and error.

“When I go to the garden center, I look for color, shape or a feeling,” said Anderson. “I don’t remember plant names. That’s why I have a sign in the garden that says ‘Don’t ask me.’ ”

The “feeling” Anderson has created in her small city plot is deliberately light and fanciful to counter her “toxic” day job, she said.

Anderson has a home-based business involving prevention of sexual abuse. “I can look out the window and see this beauty,” she said. “It’s nice to have a magical setting with healing and calming powers.”


Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619



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