St. Anthony Park Garden Tour is June 29

After Minnesota’s extended winter, this year’s St. Anthony Park Garden Tour will be especially inviting.

On Saturday, June 29, nearly a dozen gardens will be open to ticket holders. The gardens featured in the 2013 tour come in all shapes and sizes.

The tour includes a tall, vertical, hillside garden; an alley garden; a garden with a waterfall and pond filled with koi and lotus; a modern, geometric garden; vegetable gardens along the boulevard (sometimes called “full-frontal gardening”); unique gazebos; and more. Get inspired or just relax and enjoy the results of someone else’s hard work.

One of the many appealing features of this tour is the proximity of the different gardens. Many are within a short walk of each other. Others are only minutes away by car. Also, a master gardener and a member of the garden club will be available at each location to answer questions.

The gardens of John Shepard and Suzanne Brust will be featured on the tour. The couple began their elaborate garden makeover in 2010 with help from Marty Ruddy of Terra Firma Building and Remodeling and St. Anthony Park landscape architect John Thomas.

Shepard’s lifelong fascination with rivers is reflected in his garden design. He is an associate professor and assistant director of the Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE) at Hamline University. The CGEE deals with rivers and other water-related issues. As an example of Shepard’s interest in rivers, he arranged for the water from the downspout on the garage to flow through an underground pipe to the rain garden.

This garden is filled with almost two dozen wetland plants, including marsh marigold, bog rosemary, cardinal flower, coneflower, queen of the prairie and ajuga. Across a slate bridge from the rain garden is a running stream that flows over a beautifully designed waterfall. Paper birches grow on one side of the waterfall, and a crab apple tree stands on the other side. Hosta and a Japanese fountain line the fence along a shady patio, and a fern garden nestles along the opposite side.

Other gardens and parts of the yard have a wide array of flowers, birch trees, barberry, arctic willow and dogwood bushes. The lines of the various gardens follow the lines of the house and garage. The harmonious design creates a peaceful, inviting setting for the multilevel patios, deck and gardens.

Curved stone borders soften perpendicular angles, creating an overall sense of peace. Visitors pass between honeysuckle trees on either side of a charming arbor as they enter and exit this little bit of paradise.

Another garden on the tour features Nick and Debbie Jordan’s boulevard garden. Nick, who teaches agriculture at the University of Minnesota, focuses on sustainable farming.

Because of limited sunlight, he grows lots of leafy veggies, such as kale and Asian greens, as well as carrots, beets, turnips, peas and beans. He emphasizes soil preparation and the use of compost and organic fertilizers and plants in beds rather than in rows to reap the most from his limited space.

Nick is able to harvest his crop year round. His vegetable garden serves as a kind of laboratory for many neighborhood children, who enjoy learning how some of their favorite veggies actually grow.

Nick even gives inquisitive children the opportunity to pick their own free samples.

Debbie Jordan’s small perennial flower garden, filled primarily with shade plants, is tucked between Nick’s two plots.

Advance tickets to the garden tour are $12 and are available at the Bibelot and Speedy Market. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the tour at the St. Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Avenue, St. Paul, for $15. — Mary Winget, St. Anthony Park Garden Club

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