Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Garden heroes save the day

Posted by: Lynn Underwood under Annuals, Flowers, Perennials Updated: August 7, 2014 - 5:07 PM

Dan and Nancy Engebretson are gardening superheroes.

The builder of their townhome complex in the small town of Elysian was supposed to install an ordinary walking path surrounded by humdrum landscaping of spirea and other assorted shrubs.But he went bankrupt during the housing meltdown and didn’t complete the project.  So the outdoors-loving couple -  armed with shovels, a wheelbarrow, mulch and plants - saved the day.

The Engebretsons are among the winners of the Star Tribune’s Beautiful Gardens contest. Last week, I toured the mini-arboretum they’ve designed, planted and nurtured in the common area shared by all the townhome residents.

“We could look at a weed patch forever - or do something about it,” said Dan. The couple's super powers are passion, dedication and how to get a good deal on plants.

Since 2008, they’ve created a waterfall that flows down a slope into a fish pond bordered by stones they hauled and laid. Rustic wood chip paths wind around massive waves of tulips in the spring and purple coneflowers and pink phlox in summer. For Nancy, the star of almost every bed is an attention-grabbing Tiger Eye sumac.

After coming home from their day jobs, Dan and Nancy work nights and weekends watering (there’s no underground sprinkler) weeding, deadheading and keeping tabs on plant performance.

Barb Judd, an appreciative neighbor, nominated the partners in planting. “The gardens have become a mecca for residents who enjoy walking the pathways created through beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees,” she wrote. And now other townhome owners are asking the Engebretsons for adivice n planting beds in their own yards.

Have you helped beautify areas other than your own yard? Have you shared your garden know-how with novices?

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