The gardening season got off to a slow start this year. But that didn't deter local green thumbs from entering 110 gorgeous gardens in our annual Home + Garden Beautiful Gardens contest.

We saw award-worthy gardens in every style and size, from spreading acreage to small city plots. After carefully reviewing submissions, our team of six judges narrowed the field to the following winners:

Lee and Jerry Shannon are plant collectors, as well as gardeners, who display their unusual specimens in a series of stunning gardens they've created in St. Paul. The Shannon gardens have appeared in magazines and on TV.

"Attention to detail" is what makes Kevin Blaeser and Cooper Hipp's garden exceptional, according to the friend who nominated them. Their Golden Valley landscape, a popular gathering spot for their friends and families, is designed to evolve with the growing season, so there's never an absence of color and texture.

Judy Alm combines bold colors, tropical plants and whimsical elements to put her own spin on an English country garden in Richfield. She's been adding to her garden for 40 years, but is still inspired to start new projects.

Kate Podobinski packs a lot of garden into a small Minneapolis lot, where you'll find an assortment of blooming trees, perennials, roses, poppies and even peaches. "She paints the Earth like an impressionist, creating a living, changing canvas," according to her appreciative husband, Mark.

At the other end of the scale spectrum, Tricia Frostad of Chanhassen tends an expansive landscape that includes front- and back-yard gardens and a stream with three ponds. Her cottage-style garden incorporates many native plant species.

Over 20 years, Beverly Moore has created a "garden of dreams" in her St. Paul back yard, complete with a reflecting pond that she dug herself. Those dreams -- hers and her daughter's -- recently came true in romantic fashion.

Look for their stories in upcoming issues of Home + Garden.

And if you're interested in nominating a garden next year, why not take a few photos now, while the garden is at its peak? We never know what Mother Nature will have up her sleeve next spring.

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784