This year’s cool, soggy spring brought a late start to the growing season. But Minnesota gardeners made up for lost time, as demonstrated by the array of verdant gardens nominated in our annual Beautiful Gardens contest. We received more than 165 nominations this year, showcasing gardens large and small, city gardens and country gardens, formal manicured gardens, food gardens and natural gardens designed to support wildlife. We would like to offer a heartfelt thank-you to all our readers who took the time to nominate a garden. With so many wildly diverse gardens to savor, it was challenging to choose just a few winners. A panel of five judges reviewed submissions, and ultimately narrowed the field to six winners. You’ll see — and read more — about these winning gardens in upcoming issues of the Sunday Homes section and online at

1. David and Sheila Aadland, St. Bonifacius

The Aadlands have transformed their yard into a lush oasis with an artful array of foliage and flowering plants, designed to provide blooms throughout the growing season. Their landscape includes four ponds, a stream and a restful Zen garden.

2. John Elton, St. Cloud

Waves of color change throughout the growing season in Elton’s carefully planned garden. His half-acre lot is framed by blooming trellises of honeysuckle and clematis, as well as flowing beds of blooms. The centerpiece is a koi pond and waterfall.

3. Marcy Roy, Minneapolis

On an urban lot, Roy has created the feeling of being Up North at a cabin by adding boulders, plantings and a series of “docks” that overlap and take visitors to the highest part of the backyard, where one can view Minnehaha Creek — and feel like they’re not in the city at all.

4. Vani and Mike Phelps, Lakeville

The Phelpses started with a backyard full of buckthorn, and created a garden “worthy of Olympic gold medals,” according to the friend who nominated the garden. A trickling waterfall, harmonious hostas and meandering paths are among the highlights of their relaxing oasis.

5. Cindy and Mike Colson, Chanhassen

Years of effort have transformed the Colsons’ backyard full of young ash trees and buckthorn into a shady woodland garden that re-creates the area’s original forest habitat. Trees, shrubs, rocks and plantings combine to create 27 distinct garden areas within the larger landscape.

6. Michelle Mero Riedel, Oakdale

Riedel is a Master Gardener, and it shows. Her well-manicured multilevel garden incorporates more than 200 plant species, including unusual varieties and new introductions. Masses of blooms, colorful foliage, a tranquil pond and family heirloom garden art combine to create an enchanting environment.