It’s a good year for gardens, judging from the array of gorgeous nominations we received in our annual Beautiful Gardens contest. With nearly 200 entries this year, representing a wide variety of garden styles, it was difficult to narrow the field to just a few. Entries were reviewed by panel of five judges, who finally selected the following seven winning gardens:

A secret, terraced garden. Stephanie and Fred Groth’s backyard garden in Eagan is “small in size, but packs plenty of color and features,” wrote the friend who nominated it. Stephanie relies on her art background to create “a living canvas.”

Backyard paradise. For more than 35 years, Michael and Judy Cunningham of Shoreview have been refining the gardens on their 1-acre lot. Its features now include a koi pond, a four-tiered waterfall and other water features, as well as a picturesque playhouse for their grandchildren.

Garden with view. With 3 acres of land atop a hill that overlooks the Cannon River valley, John and Carrie Duba of Northfield have a picture-perfect setting. And they’ve made the most of it, creating a two-tiered vegetable garden, large circular patio and pond.

Plant specialist. Kathy Pedersen is a hosta aficionado, who breeds her own and has almost 400 varieties in the Shakopee-area garden she tends with her husband, Mike. But they also know how to use them, combining different types to create an eye-pleasing foundation for all the other plants.

Asian accent. Maureen Reynosa-Braak and her husband, Marlon, face some garden challenges, including minimal sunlight and a small city lot in Minneapolis. Still, they’ve managed to create an “urban oasis” in back and a serene Japanese garden in front.

For the birds. Reid Smith and LaWayne Leno have created not just one garden at their home in Dellwood, but multiple and distinctly different ones, including a DNR-designated wetland, a restored woodland native area, perennial beds, a full-sun patio loaded with tropical trees and plants, and an heirloom vegetable bed. Their property also has been designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat and Advanced Bird Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation because of its extensive use of native plants, organic-only gardening and 25 birdhouses.

Garden redux. When Paul and Cyndi Maas built their new home in Medford, Minn. (designed by Cyndi, with Paul serving as general contractor) they relocated their plants to temporary beds, then replanted them when the house was completed. The couple also laid pavers, built a garden shed and fences, and hauled in boulders from farm fields to create a striking new landscape.

Watch for stories and photos featuring these winning gardens in coming issues of Sunday’s Homes + Gardening section. And a big thank-you to all our readers who took the time to nominate a garden this year.