By Hannah Dove
Koi Fish, Little Villages, and An Art Deco Sewer Pipe
As the earth transitions from virtual garden tours back to physical ones, a lush planet comes out of quarantine. With the St. Anthony Park Garden Tour, 10 houses were spotlighted for their floriculture. However, what truly caught my eye on the garden tour were the Grecian columns and wrought-iron trellises. These parts folding into the scene without overtaking it, clematis and honeysuckle greeting metal as though they were old friends.
Some gardeners had hardscaping in their blood – House Number 1, built in 1903 and held in the family since 1960, boasts a year-round koi pond warmed by a livestock heater. Runoff trickles down terraces without causing any erosion to land in the street below them. A waterfall rushes past me, a tall birch and a weeping spruce-fir. Hostas line the steps, holding the line for any mulch that might rain down. “I grew up in this house,” says homeowner Deb Bordsen. “I remember when this was just a hill we used to roll down.”
Others’ gardens served as warm reminders of home; House Number 8 has sculptures and rocks, including an arrangement of iron window-weights. These manmade ornaments are housed on a backdrop of miniature evergreens. Glancing down, I see a tiny city made out of cinderblocks, with each carefully fished out of Lake Michigan by a brother back in eastern Wisconsin. Woven through the little city are fairy lights, which keep it illuminated at night.
House Number 7 claims “disorder is cultivated for the pleasure of its owner,” with hardscaping abounding mini hostas and yews underfoot. Some art picked up from old jobs, some taken from friends, and still some from claiming finders keepers. “Oh, that? That I picked up on the side of the road,” laughs garden host and homeowner Carol Herman, pointing to an iron sculpture near a wooden bench. “It may be a sewer pipe, but it’s an Art Deco sewer pipe.” Carol leans in conspiratorially to give some advice after I ask how she had managed to collect all of these refurbished eccentricities.
“If you go to a garage sale, you never know what you’re going to find… but don’t go to the ones with baby clothes, because there’s never stuff like this there.”
Which garden tours will you be going on this summer?