We’re enjoying a great growing season, judging from the Minnesotans — and a few Wisconsinites — who nominated their favorite gardens in this year’s annual Beautiful Gardens contest.

We received more than 150 nominations, showcasing gardens large and small, urban, suburban and rural, and ranging from formal manicured gardens to natural gardens designed to support wildlife.

With so many diverse gardens to savor, it was challenging to choose just a few winners. A panel of six judges reviewed submissions, and ultimately narrowed the field to six winners.

You’ll see and read about these winning gardens in upcoming issues of the Homes section and online at startribune.com. And a heartfelt thank-you to all our readers who took the time to nominate a garden this year. 

This year’s winning gardens:

1. Over the years, Kathy Freeman has created a pocket paradise (above) around the Tudor cottage she shares with her husband, Bill, in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood. An inviting garden path beckons visitors to the backyard, with its two patios and a series of garden rooms. Freeman also created a steppingstone garden in a former dead space between her home and a neighbor’s.

2. With help from her husband, Emery, Karen Koenig has created a huge and lush backyard garden with Asian influences. Her expansive Waconia garden features a medley of textures and colors, statement evergreens, a koi pond with two streams, a wooden bridge and a raised-bed vegetable garden.

3. Shari Wilsey gardens at a high-profile spot on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue. Her front yard is punctuated by a parade of distinctive container plantings, while her backyard is a colorful and private oasis, including a “secret garden” off the alley.

4. Plant collector and landscape architect Frank Fitzerald thrives on creating an artful garden on a small city lot in Minneapolis. With distinctive gardens in both front and back, it’s a relaxing refuge for himself and his partner, John Evans, as well as a lush and festive site for entertaining groups large and small.

5. Debbie and Brad Young of Cokato, Minn., aren’t short on growing space. Their 5-acre homesite has ample room for a wide variety of gardens, including a shade garden, a formal garden, multiple sun gardens and a formal vegetable garden, plus outdoor areas for hosting parties and barbecues.

6. Longtime gardener Jeremy Mayberg didn’t know much about native plants when he and his wife, Amy-Ann, bought their house in Edina. But the previous owner’s enthusiasm was contagious, and Jeremy caught the bug. The Maybergs have added paths and a fire pit, as well as more plants. There are now more than 100 species of flowering plants and grasses, about 90 percent of which are natives.