COLUMN | VIEW FROM THE GARDEN  | KENT PETTERSON

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We've Turned the Corner | 6.14
Plant Donations Needed to Support West End Neighbors Garden Tour | 5.14
Bringing Nature Home | 4.14
A Gardener's Thanks | 2.14
Service to Horticulture | 12.13
You Can Be a Gardener Too | 5.13
Great Gardening Season Again | 4.13
You Can Be a Gardner, Too | 3.13
Mr. Rose of Minnesota | 12.12
Off-Season for Gardeners | 10.12
Late Summer | 9.12
Drought | 8.12
Blessings | 7.12
It was like magic | 6.12
Good gardening to you | 5.12
Watering Our Plants | 3.12
Another garden season not too far away | 1.12
Schmidt Brewery Lofts | 12.11
One Last Mowing | 11.11
Preparing Trees for Winter | 11.11
Give Trees an Extra Drink This Fall | 10.11
Hot Time in the Garden | 9.11
Tree Care in Minnesota Summers | 8.11
Crosby Farm Park | 6.11
Urban Garden Concepts | 5.11
Prepare for Your Garden | 4.11
Think Spring | 3.11
Rituals of Winter | 2.11
Digging Out From Big Snowstorm | 1.11
 
We've Turned the Corner

It appears we have “turned the corner” on the weather pattern of cool and wet this spring. We have had three days of warm and clear that give us gardeners hope that we can now complete our spring planting including tomatoes before the end of May.

Many of our neighbors are working hard preparing their gardens for the free Seventh Annual West End Neighbors Garden Tour coming up Saturday, June 14th from 10 a.m-4 p.m. See the front page story for full details and please join us for the day in our neighborhood gardens.

I am now seeing some of the effects of the long, hard winter in my garden. My star magnolia is definitely thin on bloom; clematis that for years has sprouted from old wood, is showing weak and slow growth; Darwin tulips that have returned reliably for years are two to three weeks behind schedule, showing green growth, but slow flower-head formation.

And yet, the grape hyacinth are blooming and are as lush as ever. The shrub roses that weren’t damaged by rabbits are budding out green. The serviceberry tree is white with bloom and the hosta pips are popping and the grass is green.

We know the phenologists, people who keep track of natural phenomena, will record in detail all of the mundane, the interesting and the important details of our “theatre of seasons.” It is amazing to me the resilience we seen in our garden and in nature. As we grapple with changing climate we, as gardener-observers, will be seeing the leading edge of the changes in the plants we love.

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Plant Donations Needed to Support West End Neighbors Garden Tour

by Edie Meissner

Now the snow is gone and you can imagine what spring feels like. And when spring is here, the West End Garden Tour is close at hand. Mark your calendars now for the Garden Tour on Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring 12 of our favorite gardens.
Our free garden tour is supported in large part by the plant sale held the same day at the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation office at 974 West Seventh Street. Most of the plants are donations from all our good neighbors and gardeners. So as you gaze longingly at your garden and imagine what it will look like in the heat of the summer, think of what plants must be divided, and what areas freed up for trying new ideas. These are the plants we need for the plant sale! Annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, houseplants, herbs, veggies and rhubarb are all welcomed.

To make your contribution:
  • Pot healthy and pest-free plants. Ideally pot them at least a few days before the sale so that they can recover their loveliness by sale time. Pots are available at the Federation Office if you need some. Potting capability is not available at the sale site.
  • Use Popsicle sticks, wood or plastic markers to label your pots with as much information as you know. Example: Ostrich fern, Sh (shade), P (perennial). Cosmos, S (sun), A (annual).
  • Drop your potted plants at the Federation Office between 4 and 7p.m. on Wednesday through Friday, June 11-13.
  • For other questions or comments contact Betty Moran 651-298-5599/betty@fortroadfederation.org or Kent Petterson 651-222-5536/terrace@winternet.com.
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Bringing Nature Home [IMAGE]

Doug Tallamy’s 2007 book Bringing Nature Home was an eye-opener for many folks in the understanding of the relationships of native plants and insects and how gardeners could have a positive role in the environment. Heather Holm’s new book Pollinators of Native Plants carries the discussion forward via the role that pollinating insects play in the life of a plant and why that is important.

The subtitle, “Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants,” alludes to your role in your garden and environment. The book will draw you in quickly through the 1200 color photos of flowers, insects and their interactions. My recommendation would be to spend a preliminary hour with the book to get to understand its structure.

Heather has done a fabulous job of organizing the complex and technical subject of pollination. This book will be read and enjoyed for its illustrations, information and the larger view it presents. More importantly, it is a book you will want to study. It is small enough to fit the hand as a field guide, yet ambitious enough to cover 65 perennial flowering native plants.

The challenging vocabulary of the opening chapter will cause many readers to refer to the glossary. You might do well to read the glossary first before starting page one. You will notice the color tabbed sections (all sections are tabbed) for a visual glossary and Indexes, the suggested pollinator planting plans, and the common bee genera and conservation guides.

All of this is supportive of the core of the book devoted to the native plant/insect interactions in three communities — prairie, woodland edge and wetland edge. In a format that reminded me of Welby Smith’s technique in Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota, Heather has organized each of the featured plants into a left-hand page of plant information for culture, distribution, keying and additional notes. The right-hand page is for the insect interactions with that specific plant, and both pages are profusely illustrated.

For anyone who is interested in a better understanding of pollination and your role as a gardener, practitioner, small grower or farmer, Pollinators of Native Plants is a must-have book. It will add to your understanding of insects and wild plants and their role in the intricate web of life on earth.

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A Gardener’s Thanks [IMAGE]

by Kent Petterson

The ground is covered with snow and it’s in the deep freeze outside. It’s sort of the off-season for gardeners. But we’re still keeping ourselves in garden shape, well at least our minds in shape. It’s sort of a pause to refresh our spirits and look forward to the new year of gardening to come.

But before we do that, this gardener wants to say a bit about the past year and everything for which we can give thanks in the West End and of course to you our dear readers.

We are thankful to all the neighbors and businesses that do a little extra to beautify their homes and storefronts every year.

We are thankful to all the community gardeners who raise some of their own food and give to the food shelves as well.

We are thankful that we have two garden centers in the West End.

We are thankful to the West End Gardeners for bringing us lovely gardens and a fabulous garden tour the last six years.

We are thankful to all that take time to plant and care for all the floral containers and pocket gardens along West Seventh Street.

We are thankful to Forepaugh’s Restaurant for donating fancy canna lily bulbs for use in our 2014 public gardens.

We are thankful for our future neighborhood park at Victoria Park.

We are thankful for another year of God’s grace to share food for the table and flowers for beauty. Happy New Year and coming garden season!

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Service to Horticulture

by Kent Petterson [IMAGE]

Mary Maguire Lerman is a lifelong resident of St. Paul and her great uncle Thomas was one of the founders of the West End business, Kessler & Maguire Funeral Home located at 640 West Seventh. Many of Mary’s friends and colleagues were gathered at Terrace Horticultural Books on November 16 to recognize Mary with the Terrace Award in appreciation of her achievement and service to horticulture in Minnesota. Mary is the seventh recipient of the annual Terrace Award.

Mary retired in 2008 from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as their Environmental Coordinator of Horticulture. Her career as an educator began at Como Park in 1974 at the conservatory, where she worked for two years before accepting the job in Minneapolis. Her volunteer efforts are wide and include her role as Eco Steward in her College Park neighborhood, an advisor and educator at the new YMCA Midway “Garden in a Box” program, and as a volunteer who helps with the Bromeliads at Como Park Conservatory. She also volunteers working in the Minneapolis Parks archives and served as the Chair of the Board of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society from 2011 to 2013. Mary has written numerous articles for gardening periodicals and written or contributed to three books on horticulture. For 25 years she presented topical noon-hour Green Themes programs at the Minneapolis Public Library.

For those of us who have known Mary over the years, her path in life was clear and she puts it clearly in what she told me, “My grandmothers taught me how to garden and taught me how to create joy with a garden. That has been my mission — to help others enjoy the joy of gardening.”

Although Mary is technically “retired,” she is still active with volunteer activities and with her consulting firm of Designs by Mary Frances, 651-334-0986 and magui011@umn.edu. Terrace Horticultural Books, 503 St. Clair Ave. is open M-F, 12 to 5pm or by chance, 651-222-5536.

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You Can Be a Gardener Too

This spring was different in my vegetable garden and it isn’t too late for yours. Compost was to arrive at the Pleasant Arena site just off St. Clair mid-April and hopefully it is still be available for free there, but certainly by commercial delivery truck, which is what I decided was needed this year. One could almost say you can never have too much compost in the vegetable garden. But in my case, that wasn’t quite true.

Even though I add some compost every year, I have not been able to provide enough. It may have been the weather last year and the lack of later moisture, but I did notice a drop in food produced last year. It was not one of those measured things, and certainly loss to critters is factored in, but I thought my soil needed a bigger boost this spring. Thirty years of a vegetable plot in the same place without a rest has taken its toll.

My friend Botany Bob came to the rescue with four yards of compost in his truck. His handle is a reference to his long time interest in botany and skills that translate into truck farming, landscape work, farming, love of the land and delivering compost. We have conversations, he buys books, sometime I buy his and I buy compost. It worked fine this spring.

So how did I renovate a vegetable garden where the soil is tired, and built up above grade to overflowing the edging at my walking paths? You can’t just add more material on top. The beds in my case are about 36 inches wide and semi-raised so the middle is at least 4 inches higher than the edges that are retained by brick edging. This is a modified approach to wooden raised beds, which are well drained and faster warming in spring.

I never “turn” or till the soil, I simply break the soil with a fork and aerate leaving the layers exactly as is with a top dressing of as much compost as I have available. This year it’s a major project because I had to remove a layer of soil to gain space in the beds, then replacing the removed layer with finished compost followed by the usual forking method.

If your compost is not very well composted, that is you see a lot of visible pieces of leaves and twigs, I would add fertilizer that contains some nitrogen. An organic source of nitrogen might be preferred. Rake the soil and plant away while walking on it as little as possible
Here’s hoping for good moisture this spring and a bounteous harvest for you.

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Great Gardening Season Again

by Kent Petterson

Well, it’s snowing again, or is it raining? I don’t know. As our theater of seasons plays out we just sometimes watch in awe. April is when the season really does start to change for vegetable gardeners. We will be planting seed indoors for tomatoes and other warm season crops. We will be prepping the soil for the first outdoor crops such as lettuce, spinach, onions and all the cole or cold season crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, kale and kohlrabi. A key point to remember in the spring is repeated on most seed packets. You will see reference to planting as soon as soil can be worked.

Let’s examine this advice a little more closely. Last year we had workable soil in March. This year, it might be in April when we have soil that can be worked. This is not a comment related to air temperature and the calendar. The plants that are seeded or transplanted early are able to handle frost or even short freeze periods. Soil does need to be a minimum of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Part of the popularity of raised beds comes from the fact that the soil warms faster, and it also drains better.

Well-drained soil is the key to reaching the consistency of soil that can be worked. Soil that is wet and clumpy when taken in hand is not ready for your fork and rake. If you stick a shovel in the ground, does soil stick to the blade? If so, it’s probably too wet and shouldn’t be worked.

Spring is tricky for even the most experienced gardener. If you are mostly interested in a good tomato crop you can wait until late May to start your garden. Many vegetables in your garden start early in the garden and extend into mid summer when you could consider seeding second crops of lettuce, spinach and beets.

Speaking of beets, they are somewhat tolerant of spring frost although not as tolerant as the cold-season crops mentioned. The seed in the seed packet for beets is referred to as a seed ball because it often contains two or more plant embryos. If you have thinned beets in the past, you might have noticed you got way more plants than you thought were seeded. This extra clumping and necessary thinning of plants resulted from all the extra plant embryos available in the seed ball.

We will be well underway in the outdoor gardening season soon. Have a great season!

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You Can Be a Gardener Too

You’ve been hearing all this talk of organic gardening and growing your own food and beautifying your home and neighborhood. Maybe you refer to yourself as having a black thumb, not a green thumb for growing things. Whether it is a sense of modesty about your skills or a definite deficit, there is hope and help available for you to get into this gardening thing.

We are lucky to have two garden centers in the neighborhood, with Leitner’s at 945 Randolph Ave. and Highland Nursery at 1742 West Seventh. We have a local garden group, the West End Gardeners, that meets to organize the West End Neighbors Garden Tour each year (June 16th this year). The tour itself is a great way to meet neighbors and learn about gardening. The Ramsey County Garden Club, which celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2012, meets monthly at the Hillcrest Library in Highland.

If you want a closer contact, start a relationship with the neighbors down the street who grow vegetables or flowers. Those closest or in your block club are almost always willing to share information and plants. If you don’t have a block club, start one with a theme of gardens, potlucks and outdoor fun. Now wouldn’t that be a greatway to knit the neighbors together!

Maybe you could start with the idea of growing your own food. You can do the growing in your own yard or you can seek out your neighbors who are working together at community gardens such as the Ft. Road Community Garden on the corner of Jefferson and Victoria, or the Dousman Community Garden at West Seventh and Dousman, or the garden sponsored by Healthy West 7th off Otto in association with Sholom East.

If you are not lucky enough to be “landed” and would like more focused gardening activities, Churchneighborhood efforts are also being planned this spring to clean up and beautify where we live. Our neighborhood spring cleanup will be Saturday, April 13th, 9-11 a.m. as part of the 27th Annual Citywide Cleanup.

On May 18th, the City is sponsoring its first annual Blooming St. Paul Day to focus on public parks, pocket gardens and beauty spots. You can adopt one of these locations and get the City’s blessing and help. A central event is planned at Como Park Central Service, 1100 Hamline Ave. N., where some supplies, plants and inspiration will be available. Gardening is a healthy, safe and friendly for all ages and stages activity. However you choose to join in, you will like it!

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Mr. Rose of Minnesota

Jerry Olson, Mr. Rose of Minnesota, is in his 96th year. It is hard to imagine a finer man, whose ideal was always to help those around him to do better. I visited with Jerry today as he is recovering from a broken leg, and we talked about roses. A modest man, a railroader and a lifelong lover of roses, he had an impact on rose growing across the country.

If I have a question about roses, I consult my copy of Growing Roses in Cold Climates. He wrote it in 1998 with co-author John Whitman. A new edition of Growing Roses was released with the addition of updated contributions by Richard Hass. That release, earlier this year, was one of the checks off Jerry’s bucket list, which he says with an air of satisfaction, he has completed.

One of his favorite roses is the Lillian Gibson Rose; a hardy shrub rose to 12 feet with dark green foliage and lightly scented shell pink flowers with yellow eye. Growing in full sun, it is rock solid hardy here in Zone 4, and disease resistant.

Jerry still has roses, all Rugosas, in his home garden in Bloomington, though not to the extent he had as a rose grower for 60 years. To protect his nonhardy roses in the winter he developed, along with his friend Albert Nelson, the standard practice of burying the canes of floribunda and tea roses called the Minnesota Tip. The technique was developed in the late 1950s after he noticed that raspberry growers buried the canes of their plants for winter protection.

If you are still wondering about that rose you planted this year, check the label for hardiness. If it is Zone 5 or higher, it does need winter protection and it is not too late. The ground may be frozen, but you can still protect it with leaves or leaf bags or insulating cones and lots of snow. All hardy roses could be left as is for a spring pruning. The best of the hardy are the Canadian Shrub Rose series and Easy Elegance series and possibly the newer (2011) Sven, Ole and Lena Accents also from Bailey’s. These hardy roses are for everyone.

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Off-Season for Gardeners

Is there an off-season for gardeners in Minnesota? It may have just started for many of you, but not necessarily for everyone. I just finished rescuing some of the tender bulbous plants that can’t handle the winter freeze but will store just fine in a cool dry basement with some protection from moisture loss. This includes canna and calla lily, tuberous begonias, and sweet potato vine in my gardens. Before the first freeze, we saved cuttings for our favorite coleus for next year. Plants rooted from cuttings can be grown on from cuttings to start next year’s plants.

It is difficult to successfully dig up your favorite herb or flowering plant and bring it indoors in the fall. However your potted plants that have survived the light freeze we have had so far would do just fine. The basil is long gone, but maybe you have already brought it in. Half-hardy plants such as rosemary, sage and parsley are plants that you can save after a light freeze. If your plant still looks alive its days left are now very short without your intervention.

Sun in a south-facing window is probably the most crucial need in your home. Supplemental light from a 48” fluorescent light fixture is one solution I use at my home. Removing the plant debris in the pot and giving the plant a strong spray of water on the foliage to knock off any harbored insects would be a good idea before bringing the plant indoors.

Be prepared for some shock to the plant as it adjusts to the warmer indoor temperature. For watering, as my friend Freddie Glassoe was fond of saying, “let the plant come to the dry.” The surface soil should be dry before watering again probably no more than once a week. If you are using an herb by cutting off foliage, watch for new growth and fertilize lightly. Where you want new growth fertilizer is a good thing, but if you are just holding the plant indoors for next spring, you probably could skip the fertilizer until late winter. A good organic fertilizer is liquid seaweed, available in garden centers. Numerous homemade fertilizer recipes are available on the Internet.

It’s a very good thing that we can all have a long vacation from the garden, but as you wish, it can be a full off-season too. Good gardening to you.

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Late Summer

I love late summer and the onset of fall. Temperatures have already started to moderate and the resumption of rains in September bring a renewed interest in garden activities. I am thinking of normal rain resumption, despite what happened last year when rains virtually stopped for the fall.

I love this season for the harvest of vegetables and the satisfaction that comes with feeding mouths and saving some food for another day. Filling food shelves and your own shelves bring a sufficiency to our lives that is unsurpassed for healthy living.

I love this season for the luscious red tomatoes that produce large thick slices for BLT sandwiches. I love the smaller Sweet Million cherry tomatoes for popping in the mouth while still in the garden. I love the juicy Wapsipinicon Peach tomato and the numerous heirlooms with unusual blotches and stripes of color that look fabulous on the plate.

I love this season for the beautiful golden and red skinned onion harvest that can last well into the next year. The early spring this year allowed for early planting and resulted in large onions for many gardeners.

I love this season for the harvest of summer squash and the coming winter squashes. One of my favorite winter squashes is Spaghetti Squash. We use it in place of pasta with sauce. A nice substitute if you have gluten allergy in your family.

I love this season for the abundant sweet corn. We leave the growing to those that have space and don’t have to worry about sharing with squirrels. A cob, just a little on the young side with bursting flavor, is one of the greatest treats of the season.

I love this season for the sharing of successful harvest at educational shows put on by garden clubs or county and state fairs. Examples of what can be done inspire many for the coming season possibilities. I love this season because the harvest brings optimism and strength. Our wish is that be for everyone.

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Drought

It’s approaching 100 degrees with wind today. Probably more weather like this will be on into August and September. A little earlier start on the lack of rain than last year, with more heat, seems to be our fate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that the U.S. is “currently suffering its widest drought since 1956.”

What does this mean for us in the garden? Some good and some bad as usual. I am looking for a great harvest of okra in the vegetable garden. You might say yuck, but it’s a pretty plant that needs heat and it has lovely flowers too. Vegetable garden harvests should be great where sufficient water can be provided. I think the Japanese beetles like this heat too. That’s one of the bad parts. Probably a lot more bad than good in all this.
Here are the University of Minnesota recommendations to protect your landscape during drought: (1) If you are able to water, provide a one inch equivalent of water in your landscape plantings. Water once a week, not several times for an equivalent amount of moisture. (2) Mulch the soil to conserve moisture by reducing evaporation. (3) Apply water in the morning when it is cooler, preventing some evaporation. (4) Use direct application of water methods such as soaker hoses or spot watering.

The recommendations go on to suggest planting drought resistant plants such as native plants or cultivars. That would have been a couple of months ago and is not going to be on my agenda again until October and shouldn’t be on yours with these conditions unless absolutely necessary.

I would add in the case of turf grass, this might be a good time to consider taking out some or all of the turf grass and getting rid of the lawn mower at the same time. I am thinking that this drought might be pretty bad, and a lot of grass plants are going to die back to include the roots. We have learned in the past that going dormant during dry spells is normal for lawn grasses, but when it is dry and hot for an extended period they can die at the roots too.

Yes, this is also part of good gardening.

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Blessings

One of the blessings of being a gardener is the lessons it teaches you about humility in the face of natural forces. We seek comfort and reassurance from our god and from within ourselves when that which we cannot control works against our efforts.

In April, I wrote of my apple tree seeming to be safe from a killing frost. Not so, as it turned out, for my Honeycrisp Apple tree. Virtually all of the blossoms were frozen and I have no crop this year. I may have a chance with the pests and critters this year, but that remains to play out. And the West End Neighbors Garden Tour got rain again on June 16.

Gardeners and those that were hoping to go on the tour were a resilient bunch, and by late morning the skies opened and a great day was enjoyed by hundreds of people in the West End. Thanks from and to the West End Gardeners for another great day in the neighborhood. They will be looking for gardens to be on next year’s tour. Let us know about yours or a neighbor’s garden that you think would be interesting.

A lot of neighbors and businesses and even public works have gotten involved in improving the look around the neighborhood. The neighbors around Cliff Street have done a fabulous job of restoring the flower beds along the boulevard.

If you know of an effort to beautify the neighborhood, please notify me before August 1 and we will check it out. The West Seventh Enhancement Coalition, a subcommittee of the West Seventh Business Association, will be offering Certificates of Appreciation again this year.

For those still open to a community garden vegetable site, I understand there are still open spaces at the Sholom Community Garden location. Contact me (651-222-5536 or terrace@winternet.com) or Healthy West 7th (healthywest7th@unitedfamilymedicine.org).
Good gardens to you, Kent Petterson

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It was like magic!

It was like magic! In the morning it was an empty privately owned lot that sometimes got mowed. In the afternoon it was a garden with planted flowers and veggies, planted seeds and a new path — a mulched path with mosaic tiles created by the children that led through to the garden plots. Of course it wasn’t just magic; it was hard work by a whole bunch of our Dousman Street neighbors led by an idea, not a single person. It was somewhat spontaneous, as the idea of a garden brought neighbors and their children together for a project that grew through consensus and the act of doing together. In this garden the neighbors created, worked and ate together as the idea of a garden worked, like magic.

This doing together has been springing up in the West End quite a bit lately. In the garden, it first started in 2010 with the Fort Road Community Garden at Jefferson and Victoria. The rental fee for plots there is $50, which includes water at the site for the twenty five 12’ x 12’ plots. They have one small table-height raised bed. The raised bed is now available to someone who, for whatever reason, has restricted mobility. Twenty-five plots are rented and one plot remains for the stout of heart, as it needs de-sodding and has a small stump at one side. They continue to look for funding for a small garden shed and split-rail fencing for our ongoing beautification efforts. Contact Betty Moran at the Federation 651-298-5599 for information.

This year under the auspices of Healthy West 7th a demonstration garden of three raised beds has been created at the West 7th Community Center. This demonstration of a path to healthy living and healthy food through the garden will be one of the gardens featured on this year’s West End Neighbors Garden Tour on June 16th. See the page one story on the tour in this issue.

A second project of Healthy West 7th is a community garden that is on property owned by Sholom East on the east end of their building on Kay Ave. Ground has been broken and plots will be available soon. You should contact Kate Vickery at 612-325-6537 for more information.

It rained last night again, and the dry of last fall and winter appears to have been broken. The folks in the Dousman neighborhood, those who have community garden plots and all who would have a garden of their own are thankful a healthy and productive garden season is with us once again.

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Good gardening to you

Last month I speculated that we might be facing serious losses to the apple crop this year. So far, reports from orchards indicate the early-blossoming varieties have been hit hard where frost occurred. My own Honeycrisp is blooming beautifully, but in the middle of the city, no frost but wouldn’t you know it, snow in the air today. Oh well, Mother Nature giveth and taketh.

I hope you were able to get a start on vegetable seed planting last month. You should be fine with just about everything in the vegetable garden now except the warm-season crops. Those would include the cucurbits — winter and summer squashes and cucumbers by seed plus tomatoes and peppers from started plants. These warm season crops need to wait until the soil and air temperatures are warmer the latter half of May.

This summer I think okra might do quite well. It requires a longer and warmer summer. Do you think we might get one? Most people use okra for gumbo soup. Harvested as small pods, the green are the most common. I am especially interested in red okra for the beautiful yellow flowers and for the pods that are wonderful for dried arrangements. If you can find seed, start it in pots in early May and plant out as soon as it warm enough for the tomatoes. Sweet corn needs warmed soil too, but I don’t know any gardeners in the city who want to fight off the squirrels in a space that might only yield one or two meals for the summer.

I can’t believe I have already been digging those yellow flagging dandelions already. I really do need someone to do an intervention on me. I should be more tolerant of those yellow beauties in the lawn, but not the case. I am fine with creeping charlie, plantain, clover and other greens in the lawn but wave a little yellow in front of me and I go crazy.

In the flower garden, we should be ok for hardy perennials. I hope you all are talking swaps over the garden fence with the neighbors. I prefer to grow my annuals in pots and hanging baskets. It really helps to be able to move them in if a late frost is threatened.
Good gardening to you, Kent Petterson

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Watering our plants

Back in September I suggested that we should be watering our plants going into winter. Unfortunately, the same advice continues to be good for the spring that is now approaching. Who knows, we may be in shirtsleeves on March 1.

I’ve been starting plants in the basement. It is that season. Most, including lettuce, cole crops and peppers should be started indoors about March1, followed by tomatoes, marigolds, sunflowers, and fast growing squash and cucumbers about April 15. Check out seed starting on the Internet or get a book such as “Park’s Success with Seeds” to fill in all the details.

I’ve also been thinking about rabbits lately. Last year was a tough year with me losing most of the battles. This year I am thinking a big stout fence. But it will have to be a creative approach, because I seem to be outnumbered and they seem to be able so far to go over, through and under any barrier known to man.

I’ve tried exclusion netting — they eat it. I’ve tried short barrier fencing — they jump it. I’ve tried smelly sprays and that only seems to work for me. I’ve tried pellet shot and I’m not a very good aim.

In past years I had always taken the “live and let live, it’s best to share” view. I’m feeling like the scales have tipped and now the rabbits are unwilling to share. I really shouldn’t have to buy more land so there is enough to “share.”

The battle will continue this year. I haven’t given up and I have ideas. Perhaps you have had successes you would like to share. Please let me know at terrace@winternet.com.

Good gardening to you, Kent Petterson.

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Another garden season not too far away

At the beginning of 2012 it is appropriate to reflect on some good things for which gardeners can be thankful. Here’s my list, which might reflect some of your thoughts.

We can be thankful that another year out in the garden is not too far off — brrrr.

We are fortunate that the ground water supply is adequate for us to nurture plants in the landscape despite our year ending drought. Snow is moisture too, so pray for more.

We are thankful that we have two nursery businesses supplying our garden needs and that a whole host of businesses have supported beautification in the neighborhood by adopting hanging baskets and containers for flower planting.

We are thankful that so many people care about the West End and act on it every day to make it look better and more livable. Some of us can do so through our gardens.

We are thankful that our gardening brings us closer to the land that nourishes our body and soul.

We are thankful that the Fort Road Community Garden has passed its second year of growing food for its gardeners and our neighbors in need. A lovely spirited community has grown up around their garden in the empty lot at the corner of Jefferson and Victoria.

We are thankful for the gardeners of the West End, who are organizing their fifth annual West End Neighbors Garden Tour for June 16, 2012, Fathers Day weekend. Who would have thought we could find so many gardens and enthusiastic gardeners to pull it off and be the inspiration it has become?

Many gardeners are able to grow food for themselves, sometimes with overwhelming success. If you are blessed in this way, you might be interested in the efforts of a few neighbors that are working to match up your talents, open space land and interested supporters in finding ways to enhance a local healthy food supply. A group called Healthy West Seventh is seeking to organize the initiative. If you want more information, contact Kate Vickery at kate.vickery@mac.com or Master Gardener Lynda Anderson at lynda.anderson@gmail.com.
Happy New Year!

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Schmidt Brewery Lofts

The fabulous evening unveiling of the Schmidt Brewery Lofts brought out around a thousand people. A lot of folks got a glimpse of the future possibilities for this neighborhood site. While waiting in line for a sample of the wonderful fare provided by the Glockenspiel, I had a chance to talk a while with The Florist’s Daughter, Patricia Hampl. You may be familiar with Hampl’s memoir of that name. Some older readers may remember Hampl’s parents, Mary and Stan, who operated Holm & Olson Florists with their greenhouses off Duke Street. The Holm & Olson greenhouses are gone now, replaced by housing.

Years after that loss, the West End is fortunate to be the home of four businesses specializing in flowers. The neighborhood has two florists and two nursery businesses, all locally owned family businesses. Not every neighborhood has even one florist, and I think two of the four remaining garden nurseries in the city are right here in the West End.

Ashley Nichols purchased Jandrich Floral Shop at 976 West Seventh Street in August of 2010. The family business of Larry Jandrich had been in operation for 47 years. Check out the standard holiday wreath display in their window. All wreaths, centerpieces and floral arrangements can be customized to your request at 651-292-8833.

DiSanto’s Fort Road Florist is a family owned business. Mike DiSanto’s shop is at 262 West Seventh, 651-222-1460. They are proud of their 20 years of quality floral arrangements and service to the neighborhood. A large holiday selection of poinsettias will be available from them this holiday season.

Leitner’s Garden Center is a full service nursery and landscape products business when you include their bulk products center of landscape rock, mulches and topsoil. Their shop at 945 Randolph Ave. is a delight for the eyes year-round. They have more than 50 assorted greens, berries and twigs available. Store Manager Joan Westby says they also have fresh flowers, Christmas trees and seasoned firewood.

Highland Nursery at 1742 West Seventh has “Gardening Classes with Sue” (owner Sue Hustings). January 24th is their next class on Garden Design — Planning Basics, followed by four others through the spring. Hustings moved the shop from Highland in 1978 and continues their nursery operation with the help of daughter Teri Otterness. Check out their Winter Wonderland of decorated holiday trees and gifts.

Please give these local businesses a shot at your holiday business and through the year. Our best wishes for all the joy of the holidays to all of our readers, and thanks for your interest.

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One Last Mowing

In the fall I like to give the lawn one last mowing after the leaves have fallen, but I hate it when my lawn mower engine won’t start as it did this week. I have mine tuned up, seems like every year, and yet it gives me trouble nearly every time I want to mow the lawn. It’s not a lot of lawn, but I have been hanging on to it because I like the green spots of color surrounded by landscape plantings. Some people are getting rid of their lawn in favor of flowers or native plants or vegetables. That includes me at my home in Minneapolis where the fallen leaves become mulch instead of a raking job.


The same mulching at my gardens in St. Paul is accomplished with my mulching lawn mower. In the summer the rear bagger catches the grass clippings to put into the compost to speed up the composting process. In the fall, I mow the leaves along with the grass. The mulched leaves are almost gone by spring when put down in a thin 1/2 inch layer around plants. I am careful to not cover the perennial plants until the soil is well frozen. These kinds of strategies might make sense in your own landscape. Instead of sending the organic matter, which represents shelter and food for invertebrates, critters and birds, you can keep it.

Each fall the West End Gardeners start planning for the annual West End Neighbors Garden Tour. The fifth annual tour will be held Fathers Day weekend June 16, 2012. The initial planning meeting will be Wednesday November 9 at the Federation offices, 924 West Seventh. Please join us! We need you and your garden.

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Preparing Trees for Winter

by Jonathon Heaton, Arborist

Minnesota winters are tough. Not only for people, but for our trees and shrubs as well. Freezing temperatures, hungry animals, and heavy snow and ice combined with strong winds all create havoc with our plants. They don’t make down coats for trees but there are some preventive steps that can help your plants make it through the winter.

Two of the most beneficial things that can be done to help trees and shrubs stay healthy through the winter are mulch and water. Plants can continue to take up water well into fall even once they have lost their leaves. Water plays a critical role in plant health during the winter, especially with evergreens. Winter burn happens with evergreens when they lose water through their needles that they aren’t able to absorb and replenish from the frozen ground. Ensuring that they have had a good supply in the summer and fall will reduce the risk of winter burn.

Mulch helps to add beneficial organic matter as it decomposes. It reduces the amount of moisture that evaporates from the soil so there is more for your plants to use. It also helps to moderate soil temperatures, which is very important for trees braving a Minnesota winter.

Ideally, trees will have their entire root-zone covered in mulch, but even mulching only a few feet away from the trunk can be very beneficial. Take care not to place any mulch directly against the trunk of the tree as this can lead to other problems in the future.

Beyond the cold temperatures plants are also at risk of damage from snow and ice and chewing by animals. You can help to protect the stems of your plants from rabbits and voles by covering them with plastic or other chew-proof material as long as you remove this in the spring. Where this is impractical there are effective animal repellants that can be sprayed on the stems. There is a wide variety of deer-repellants available but for winter we only use a latex-based repellant which we have found to be very effective.

For snow and ice damage you can also help by wrapping evergreens with a soft twine to reduce the amount of snow the branches catch. When possible use a broom or shovel to knock accumulated snow from branches. For evergreens and deciduous trees alike proper pruning can go a very long way in preventing damage during the winter and improve the overall health and structure.

Ultimately the safest and most beautiful tree is a healthy tree. Keeping a plant healthy involves many issues such as soil conditions, proper pruning, watering, and managing insect and disease threats. As with most things in life an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I recommend consulting with an ISA certified arborist or other landscape professional before you notice any problems to identify what can be done to keep your trees and shrubs healthy.

Jonathan Heaton is an Arborist Representative with Bartlett Tree Experts. Bartlett Tree Experts provides services which help to maintain safe, healthy, and beautiful trees and shrubs. Jonathan can be reached at (763) 253-8733 or jheaton@bartlett.com.

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Give Trees an Extra Drink This Fall | 10.11

As I write, it is raining today. It reminds me of how important soil moisture is for trees and perennial plants going into the winter season. I imagine some of my neighbors have been wondering what I have been doing watering on cool, even overcast days lately. Well, we all could do a little to improve the health of our planted landscape by doing more watering over the next days until freeze.

Early summer rains provided quite good moisture, but we haven’t had much rain for over a month. Some herbaceous plants, those annuals and perennials, have shown signs of a lack of moisture. Trees, not so much, but they are tapping reserves that need to be replenished without rain. We have been lucky by comparison to other parts of the country, with wild swings in violent weather especially common this year.

All plants and trees are more susceptible to disease and insects when their health is compromised by lack of moisture. With the new invasion of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), keeping our ash trees watered and healthy is the first line of defense. Have you noticed the purple three sided baited traps hanging in ash trees around town? These traps are designed to survey the presence of the borer by luring the beetle with bait and the color purple. The city has also been selecting bait trees as a lure for the beetles. Certain trees have been deliberately girdled (removing a ring of bark) to kill the tree. EAB are more prone to attack the weakened tree, which is seasonally removed and chopped up to reduce beetle populations.

The city has been surveying ash tree populations on public lands with an eye to programmed replacement. Thankfully, they have also revised the early total removal policy in favor of a more selective approach. Home owners can even adopt their boulevard tree and commit to having it chemically treated. Two of the commonly approved compounds imidacloprid and emamectin benzoate under several product names are considered safe, but at least one local municipality is considering a ban on their use because of recently discovered problems.
In the West End, we don’t have reports of EAB yet. Japanese beetles did arrive this year though, and that’s another story. But what are we going to do with all the ash trees that have been planted along West Seventh? The fight goes on for them and the other species planted in the concrete sidewalk box outs. Let’s give all our trees an extra drink this fall!

Editor’s Note: A bulletin from St. Paul Parks and Recreation asks residents and businesses to help water trees both privately and public trees near their properties. It says that the city’s 130,000 public trees are showing signs of stress, many of them severe, due to lack of rain this summer. A weekly watering of several hours from a trickling hose is recommended to help trees through the dry weather. For more information about caring for trees, residents can visit the City’s website, stpaul.gov/naturalresources and follow links to the Forestry unit. To request a gator bag to help water a recently planted public tree please call Forestry at 651-632-5129.

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Hot Time in the Garden | 9.11

It has been a hot time in the garden this summer. I don’t know about you, but it has been hard on me to keep up with the garden work in the heat. Weeds, you know those plants out of place, have been taking over in some spots. Got to get them out before they set seed. Even so, rain has been wonderful and the grass is still green. It is harvest season including fresh tomato time! My Park’s Whopper hybrid tomatoes are coming in large, heavy and luscious, the heirloom yellow pear shaped Lemon Drop tomato is just fabulous, but we are still waiting for the exquisite and unusual heirloom Wapsipinicon Peach (aka yellow peach) that were such a delight in our garden last year. I would recommend these three as keepers to try again.

The West 7th Business Association and its Enhancement Coalition has been busy again this year planting tree box outs and containers along West Seventh. Led by Lori Harris, tree box outs have been planted with flowering plants donated by Minnesota Green. Have you noticed them? Not only has the coalition been at work. Businesses up and down the Avenue have been planting flowers and tending to their storefronts.

Eleven large flower containers were also adopted in the neighborhood. Some were relocated and others are new along West Seventh all arranged by the Enhancement Coalition with the assistance of City Parks. Please let the following adopting businesses know you appreciate the flowers added in these containers: Petite Salon, John Yust Architect, Bonfe’s Mechanical, Grand 7, Cooper’s Foods, Glockenspiel, Claddagh Coffee Café and friends of the new Pleasant Park. Kudos to the neighborhood!

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Tree Care in Minnesota Summers | 8.11

Guest Column by Jonathan Heaton

Few things are easy about the Minnesota climate. Frigid winters followed by hot summers can be very taxing on our trees and shrubs. Fortunately, with proper care, we can maintain a beautiful and healthy landscape. What is the best way to care for our shrubs during the hot summer?

With trees and shrubs, as with many things, the best defense is a good offence. Proper care throughout the year will have your plants ready to handle the stress of summer. Water regularly during the entire season, even in the fall after leaves have begun to drop. Maintain healthy soils with fertilization, mulch, and compost. Monitor carefully for pest and disease issues and treat when necessary.

A common question is when and how much to water trees and shrubs. Trees especially prefer long, deep watering as opposed the light watering that lawn sprinklers provide. This allows water to penetrate deeply into the soil where tree and shrub roots are growing. Soaker hoses left on for a long period of time and Tree Gator watering bags are efficient ways to water. There are inexpensive meters available to check soil moisture levels but the simplest way is to dig down 3-6 inches and feel the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Remember that it is possible to water too much; if the soil is still moist there, wait to water.

Healthy soil allows trees to grow more fine roots, which are the roots that absorb water. Soil that has all of the essential nutrients, that is high in organic matter, and that has good pore space (is not compacted) is the best for root growth and water absorption. Have your soil sampled to check for nutrient levels such as calcium, which plays an important role in water management for plants.

Summer is also a time when many pest and disease issues start to show their effects. A few common problems in our area are needlecast on pines and spruces, mites on many plants, apple scab on crabapples, and various leaf-feeding beetles and caterpillars. Monitor your plants carefully and regularly for any damage or unusual growth and consult with a professional if you see any problems.

Finally, it’s a good idea to have an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist inspect your trees and shrubs at least once year. Arborists are trained to recognize current problems as well as to prevent serious issues before they start to affect your plants.

Jonathan Heaton is an Arborist Representative with Bartlett Tree Experts. Bartlett Tree Experts provides services which help to maintain safe, healthy, and beautiful trees and shrubs.

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Open Letter to West End Gardeners | 7.11[IMAGE]

Being an Open Letter to the West End Gardeners, Neighbors and Supporters

Rita Quigley may have summed up best why we have the tour when she told me “Today I have fallen in love with my own neighborhood again.” We do love our neighborhood and want to show it at its best and make it better. Last weekend was one of those times when we were at our best. Not only the tour gardeners but also all their neighbors. Our garden tour exemplifies the best of those kinds of grassroots neighborhood efforts.

Despite the rain, it was a wonderful weekend in the West End and kudos are due all around. A special thank you to each of the 16 gardeners who offered their garden for the tour. The gardens this year were diverse and beautiful each in their own wonderful way. A big thank you to all who participated and helped in small and big ways. Those that helped, more than 50 individuals plus our advertising partners and the Fort Road Federation, are the backbone of our effort.

[IMAGE]Attendance was probably in the neighborhood of 300 on Saturday, even though umbrellas were numerous again in the neighborhood. Reports were roughly 100 to 200 visitors at most garden sites.

Each garden on the tour will be nominated for a St. Paul Blooming Boulevard award. Nominations are due by July 9 with judging at the sites the week of July 24. There are numerous other gardens in the neighborhood that deserve recognition, and I would urge all and our neighbors to recognize the efforts of someone in the West End whose garden adds a beauty spot to our neighborhood. The 2011 Blooming Saint Paul Awards nomination forms are available online at the St. Paul city website, stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=1063.

Editor’s note: Sue Thompson writes: Thanks to Kent Petterson for the highlight of Urban Garden Concepts in his May column. Our correct phone number is 651-760-3846.



 
Crosby Farm Park | 6.11

Crosby Farm Park in the Mississippi River valley was not on my radar screen until last year. The river is so close, and yet because of real and imagined barriers to the river, it was psychologically so far for me. The river valley was within city blocks of both my home and my work, but “it was over there” where I hadn’t spent much time for many years.

That all changed last year when I became interested in the Great River Park (GRP) Master Plan project. Areas like Lilydale, Harriet and Raspberry Islands, Hidden Falls, the Upper Landing, Island Station and Crosby Farm Park were known of, yet in many ways unknown. The Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) and many neighbors have been involved all along the river for years. Pledge to Pull is a project of FMR at Crosby Farm Park.

Removal of invasive plant species and restoration of prairie land is a goal of Pledge to Pull. On Saturday, June 11, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. friends will be gathering at Crosby Farm for a weeding and planting event and you are invited. Dress appropriately, but supplies and training are furnished for volunteers.

You don’t need to go to northern Minnesota to experience wild lands. They are right here in our midst at the river. Maybe you, too, like me, can rediscover the river this year. For additional information you can contact Sue Rich at srich@fmr.org or 651-222-2193 extension 14.

For those who have been following the GRP Master Plan with me, the plan results from the year long study will be presented to the City by the Wenk Design Team at Harriet Island Pavilion on June 16 at 5 p.m.

I’ll also offer one last reminder that our 2011 West End Neighbors Garden Tour takes place on June 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a concurrent plant sale at the West Seventh Federation (974 West Seventh). The Tour features a variety of gardens, including residential vegetable and flower gardens, roof top gardens, rain gardens, and the gardens of Hinding Plumbing and Heating, Fort Road Community Garden, Day By Day Cafe, Fire Station No.1, Sholom Home and Terrace Horticultural Books, Information and maps for this event can be downloaded from fortroadfederation.org/garden/index.htm.
Good Gardening to You.

Editor’s note: Sue Thompson writes: Thanks to Kent Petterson for the highlight of Urban Garden Concepts in his May column. Our correct phone number is 651-760-3846.

 
Urban Garden Concepts | 5.11 [IMAGE]

Jeff Thompson lives on Emma Street with his wife Susan. His daughter lives two doors down. Gardening is kind of a family passion. Both of their homes will be on the West End Neighbors Garden Tour Saturday, June 18. More tour details are in this issue of the Community Reporter.

I want to tell you about Jeff’s business, Urban Garden Concepts. I first spotted Jeff, actually my wife Abby did, at Mississippi Market. He was displaying a sample of his cold frame for early spring protection of tender young seedling plants while they harden off. Hardening off is a spring period, about a week or two after plants come out of the greenhouse or your indoor protected environment. They need a time to acclimate themselves to the harsh outdoors. Wind, bright sun, or cool, even freezing temperatures, can mean their death. The cold frame provides a controlled space in which they can adjust.

Enter Jeff and his skilled hands. Of course, I wanted something a little bigger and had my own ideas. He fielded my every whim and came up with just the right cold frame for my situation. He’s a handy guy and knows just what gardeners need. Their garden proves it. He has samples of his raised garden beds in his yard and can build one or more for you. My friend Jo Craighead wanted a handicapped accessible raised bed. Before you know it, Jeff had one ready for her. He can build trellises, window boxes, combo boxes with trellis and, I would expect, just about anything you need for the garden. Jeff does have a day job, but give him a call at 651-760-3846. He'll call you back.

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Prepare for Your Garden | 4.11

We have had a warm spell and those mounds of white stuff are shrinking. Despite feelings to the contrary, spring will be here very quickly and it is time to prepare for the reality of your winter garden dreams. If you have an apple tree or decorative crab apple, this is the month before freezing ends to do pruning for shape and size control of those trees. If you wait until warm weather, your open prune wounds expose the tree to fire blight, a common disease in apple and pear trees. Its characteristic symptoms of watery looking blossoms and dried up tips to new spring growth are often fatal but easily avoided if pruning occurs in cold weather. For spring-blooming shrubs save the pruning until after they have bloomed. In Ramsey County, call 651-704-2071 and in Hennepin County, call 612-576-2118.

One of the least fun but most necessary and in the end satisfying of jobs is spring cleanup. Expect to see some snow mold, which is a light colored fungus cover of grass plants below the snow. In most cases, exposure to sunlight and air circulation will take care of the problem. Don’t be too anxious to rake before the lawn has had a chance to dry and firm up a bit. Despite the cold weather this winter, deep snow cover has kept the frost from diving too deeply in the ground. Hopefully this could allow all the good moisture to soak in rather than add to the flooding expected.

Recognizing that the street related areas in the West End also need some attention in the spring, the West 7th Enhancement Coalition in association with the West 7th Business Association is sponsoring the second neighborhood Spring Cleanup, Saturday April 9 9-11am. They want to encourage all businesses and neighbors to put their best effort into setting the tone for a beautiful West End.

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Think Spring | 3.11
 
We have had a warm spell and those mounds of white stuff are shrinking. Despite feelings to the contrary, spring will be here very quickly and it is time to prepare for the reality of your winter garden dreams. If you have an apple tree or decorative crab apple, this is the month before freezing ends to do pruning for shape and size control of those trees. If you wait until warm weather, your open prune wounds expose the tree to fire blight, a common disease in apple and pear trees. Its characteristic symptoms of watery looking blossoms and dried up tips to new spring growth are often fatal but easily avoided if pruning occurs in cold weather. For spring-blooming shrubs save the pruning until after they have bloomed. Complete information is available at the University Of Minnesota Extension website or their Master Gardener helpline. In Ramsey County, call 651-704-2071 and in Hennepin County, call 612-576-2118.
One of the least fun but most necessary and in the end satisfying of jobs is spring cleanup. This year, in addition to leaf raking, we can look for a lot of rabbit damage to shrubs and exposed plant stems above the snow line. Expect to see some snow mold, which is a light colored fungus cover of grass plants below the snow. In most cases, exposure to sunlight and air circulation will take care of the problem. Don’t be too anxious to rake before the lawn has had a chance to dry and firm up a bit. Despite the cold weather this winter, deep snow cover has kept the frost from diving too deeply in the ground. Hopefully this could allow all the good moisture to soak in rather than add to the flooding expected.
Recognizing that the street related areas in the West End also need some attention in the spring, the West 7th Enhancement Coalition in association with the West 7th Business Association is sponsoring the second neighborhood Spring Cleanup on Saturday April 9 from 9 to 11am. They want to encourage all businesses and neighbors to put their best effort into setting the tone for a beautiful West End this summer.

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Rituals of Winter | 2.11

One of the rituals of winter for me is ordering seeds for the next summers’ garden planting. Plants are needed for my garden flower and vegetable beds, containers, and for donations to friends and neighbors. To get more plants, we divide perennial plants already growing in the garden. If you are planning on dividing perennials in your garden this spring, the West End Gardeners could use some of them in neighborhood gardens or for the plant sale held the same day as the West End Neighbors Garden Tour, this year on June 18. If you want a new plant at a reasonable price, growing from seed is the most economical way. This works well if you have a sunny window or a fluorescent grow light available, which I do, so all is well in that regard, but…

I do have one problem this year. I’ve caught the bug for something new in my garden. Miniature gardening has been around for a while, but I attended a presentation this winter on fairy gardens by the staff of Tonkadale Greenhouse. They have a wonderful website at tonkadale.com offering many variations on the theme with fairy figures, houses and of course tiny plants to create a living landscape in miniature. Some of you may recall the garden of Bonnie Rohow from our first West End Neighbors Garden Tour. Bonnie had a small Fairy Garden in her back yard at the base of a large tree. Just charming!

It is that charm that I hope to capture in a large pot or a window box in my garden this year. I’ve been collecting small resin figures and buildings from second-hand stores like our St. Vincent de Paul shop. Bonsai plants or miniatures from a supplier like Tonkadale or on the website miniforest.com complete the landscape. Miniforest has an unbelievable selection of plants. Trees, shrubs, perennials, mosses, grasses — all in miniature. Another source locally would be Betty Ann Addison at Rice Creek Gardens in Blaine, 763-754-8090. Betty Ann specializes in plants for rock gardening. Many plants in the rock garden are very small and would work perfectly in the miniature garden. For the time being, I am going to rely on plant suppliers for the miniatures. Most of these plants are sports or genetic “dwarfs,” so they are multiplied by vegetative means such as division or cuttings. When I get a few of my own, I could do the same, but for this year, I’m just excited about gathering up the pieces for my “little garden” in the garden.


 
Digging Out From Big Snowstorm | 1.11

As I write this I have just finished, with some help, digging out from the big snowstorm. Nothing probably will match in my mind the storms of my youth in western Minnesota, but this one was a doozy too. My new Floridian neighbors Jack and Carla are probably in shock trying to adjust to the problems and pace of Minnesota winter life with its assault of snow and cold.

Although this too will pass, it doesn’t make the snow any lighter as the pile gets higher. What does help is the way neighbors pitch in to help each other. I had my own heart-warming and back-saving experience when the Nhim family from across the street showed up to help with the shoveling. Cambodian immigrant dad, and sons, showed up to finish the job before I had to give it up for another day. I hope you were able to help or be helped in this Holiday Season of hope, family and giving.

Those of us who are gardeners have a normal variety of responses to winter, from “I will think about it in spring” to my own response of plans for seed-starting and ongoing propagation from cuttings in the basement. It is our indoor activities that keep us going in the offseason. The West End Gardeners have met in November to set the next West End Neighbors Garden Tour for Saturday June 18 Fathers Day Weekend next year. This fourth annual event is self-supporting and a delightful event in the neighborhood. Please mark your calendars to save the day. If you have a garden or know of a neighbor whose garden you know would be of interest, please get in touch with me, 651-222-5536 by January 15. We do not require a show garden, but rather a garden that is interesting and educational for others. The next meeting for the tour is set January 28, 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Road Federation offices, 974 West Seventh.

 
West End Garden Tour has Good Spinoff Effects | 12.10

It hardly seems possible it is four years ago that the germ of the idea for a neighborhood garden tour, later named the West End Neighbors Garden Tour, was floated by Maxine McCormick. A year later the first tour had occurred, and this year about 400 people visited 16 neighborhood gardens on a wonderful June day. A total of 44 gardens later, we are on our way to the 2011 tour with high hopes for more of the good things that the tour brings to the West End. It has been a fun journey for me and for some in the neighborhood too. We’ve had a journey of discovery of gardens we wanted to get to know and others we didn’t know existed; a journey of growth for an idea and a few gardens and their gardeners and a neighborhood; a journey of appreciation for the great neighborhood that the West End is and a chance to show others what the West End has to offer, and not just in the garden. We have heard of a couple that has traveled from the east coast each of three years to see what the new tour brings for them. It has been a journey of acquaintance and purpose for many in the neighborhood who realize the tour has become important to the neighborhood. Join the West End Gardeners on Nov.17 at the Fort Road Federation office 974 West 7th Street, 6:30 p.m., as we begin planning for the next phase of the journey.

For the neighborhood, the tour has been a wonderful single day event. It has also had several good spinoff effects. For instance, you may have noticed that the pots to the west of Randolph Ave. on West 7th have been looking pretty good the last couple of years. You may have noticed the St. Paul Parks horticulture crew working in the neighborhood this summer, which has never happened before. You may have noticed flowers growing in some of the tree box-outs on West 7th between Smith and St. Clair. Our West End Gardeners have played a role in all of these things. On Cliff Street this summer a small group of neighbors led by Lori Harris did a wonderful job of cleaning up the streetscape. The existing flower beds were renovated and replanted with hundreds of perennial flowers donated through the West End Gardeners and Minnesota Green.

It isn’t just the West End Gardeners. Despite the horrible economy and foreclosures all around, businesses and neighbors seem to have an upbeat attitude about the future prospects for this neighborhood. I hope your prospects are improving and that you will be able to enjoy the 2011 West End Neighbors Garden Tour. Stay tuned!





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