Member Spotlight: A Gardening Legacy

This article by Diane Duvall originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of Northern Gardener.

Max Twum and mom

Max Twum grew up in a greenhouse. Here he is with his mother Margaret Yaekel-Twum as an infant.

“I grew up in a greenhouse,” says new MSHS member, Max Twum. “My mom used to wheel me around in a utility cart when she was working as a horticulturist at the University of Minnesota’s Bio Sciences facility.”

Max’s mom is Margaret Yeakel-Twum, who gave Max and his wife, Dana, an MSHS membership in June 2020 after they bought a new house. Their new yard was a blank slate, filled with red mulch, so inspiration from Northern Gardener magazine and Margaret’s gardening expertise were put to work on the property right away. “We owned our house for three days and she was ready to spruce up the garden—I knew I had the ultimate expert,” says Max.

Max and Dana grew up gardening within a mile of each other—Max in Falcon Heights and Dana in Shoreview. Max would ride his bike to Dana’s house where her parents always had a garden. “We grew together as a family,” says Dana. “I have fond memories of picking peppers, tomatoes and beans in the summertime with my parents.” Max and Margaret lived in an apartment at the time, so they had a community garden plot at Gibbs Farm. Max remembers picking sugar-snap peas in the evenings and helping his mom water the garden. “I was really more interested in jumping in the mud piles that I would create with the hose,” says Max.

Max Twum wedding picture

Max and Dana (center) with his sister and mother at their wedding at the Como conservatory.

Max and Dana worked together in the garden center at Frattallone’s Ace Hardware in high school. “That’s when we started dating,” says Max. They were married in 2016 at the Como Conservatory in St. Paul where Margaret worked for many years as the horticulturist for the topical exhibit. Max remembers Margaret growing the corpse flower at Como that garnered international attention. “That really got me excited about horticulture. I thought, if my mom can grow that plant, she can grow anything.”

When Margaret Yeakel-Twum died suddenly in September of this year, Max and Dana decided to transplant Margaret’s entire garden to their new house in Minneapolis.

“We have peonies, sedum, astilbe, clematis—a bounty of perennials,” says Dana. They are also transferring the two trees that Margaret had planted in memory of Max’s sister, Vanessa, who died earlier in 2020. “My mom created this beautiful space for family to gather. Transplanting her garden is really helping us right now and a great way to honor her legacy,” says Max.

Do you know a new gardener who would benefit from a membership in MSHS? The hort society is offering $10 off gift memberships through the end of the year.


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