In the 1980s, a grand tradition began in St. Anthony Park: the garden tour. And it’s back again this year for a 29th showing.

On June 29, St. Anthony Park will again be filled with gardeners who come from near and far to get ideas for their own gardens. Ten private gardens and several business/public gardens will be on display. During the day, visiting gardeners can also enjoy local businesses and restaurants.

Advance tickets are $12 and on sale at Speedy Market and Scarborough Fair Boutique and may be purchased online at

On the day of the tour, tickets can be purchased for $15 at the booth on the St. Anthony Park Library lawn, 2245 Como Ave., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Diane Emerson, a Hillside Avenue resident and then presi­dent of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society (MSHS), worked with the St. Anthony Park Association (SAPA) and MSHS to institute the tour.

Later, local gardeners helped organize the tour with SAPA, which evolved into the St. Anthony Park Foundation. In the spring of 1997, the St. Anthony Park Garden Club was formed and since then, the garden club plans and manages the biennial tour. Held only in odd-numbered years, the funds raised help provide for the yearly plantings at the St. Anthony Park Library and the Incredible Edible Gardens in our neighborhood. Funds raised also provide two horticulture scholarships for University of Minnesota students, awarded each spring at HortSci Day on the St. Paul Campus.

What makes the St. Anthony Park Garden Tour unique? Topography, topography, topography and shade! Glaciers rolled through our area creating the most unusual lots and the owners of these properties have chosen innovative ways to cope with their land mass. Bur oaks from the savanna that covered this land pre-settlement, continue to shade much of our neighborhood. So, if you combine unique topography and shade, you get gardeners

• who have constructed rock gardens to deal with steep slopes

• who have planted delightful combinations of wildflowers and shade perennials

• who are determined to grow edible and sustainable landscapes, despite the shade, and

• who are concerned for our pollinators and have planted appropriately

When visiting gardens on the tour, be sure to bring your camera. Photos can inspire you with ideas to transfer to your garden. Take time to question the gardener and the Master Gardener at each site as you will learn interesting stories about their gardening challenges. They can help answer your plant questions and direct you to resources.

Garden tour etiquette

Garden tour etiquette requires that you do not remove plant labels or snip cuttings. Visitors are also asked to stay on the tour’s designated paths.

For privacy reasons, the tour organizers never reveal the locations of private gardens before or after the tour. Only when you attend the garden tour will you have the opportunity to see their beauty.

However, there are several business/public gardens on the tour this summer. Check out the amazing plantings at businesses along Como Avenue and, in particular, the quaint Milton Square on Carter Avenue. The gardens surrounding the St. Anthony Park Library will also provide you with inspiration. And . . . finally. . . .

Consider visiting the prairie/rain gardens at Bang Brewing, 2320 Capp Road. Bang Brewing earned the 2015 Saint Paul Award for Green Product and the 2017 Pioneer Press award for Best Patio. The rain gardens that border the patio help absorb 200,000 gallons of water runoff from adjoining businesses each year! Planted within these gardens are native wildflowers and grasses and the effect is inspiring.

Bang Brewing’s efforts have inspired nearby Urban Growler to enlist The Wildflower Project in planting a prairie garden that was just installed this May. Typically, a prairie garden takes two to three years to become established, so plan to visit it over the next several years to watch it mature.

A short walk away at Urban Growler, 2325 Endicott Street, is its pollinator garden which is being created in collaboration with The Wildflower Project. Matt Wildenauer, from that project, will be there and will speak about the work being done to create an urban sanctuary in the Urban Growler’s parking lot.

Happy touring!        

Mary Maguire Lerman is a gradu­ate horticulturist and lives in St. Anthony Park.

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