Inspired at Squire House Gardens: Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling

Our tour buses took us out of Minneapolis on the last day of the recent Garden Bloggers Fling — an annual event with 60+ garden bloggers touring Minneapolis this year — through St. Paul and on into charming Afton, Minnesota, where we visited nursery and gift shop Squire House Gardens, which operates out of a nearly 150-year-old home.

A formal garden, surprisingly planted with many native plants, flows out from the house/gift shop. Where two paths intersect, a focal-point urn draws the eye, as do giant silver thistles.

A strikingly unusual choice

Elsewhere in the garden, still-blooming thistles proved irresistible to bees.

Nearby, a formal pool surrounded by potted plants adds the cooling music of splashing water.

A small, hedged garden room along one sunny border holds a lawn, a bench…

…and a druid-adorned sundial.

But much of the garden is quite shady, with white statuary and garden decor, like this ram’s head, to brighten dimly lit spaces.

I believe this is black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), a lovely native plant that unfortunately, to my nose, has a strong bug-spray scent. But others didn’t seem to mind it. It lit up the shady garden so nicely.

Another look

A small Zen-style garden offers a quiet place to sit…

…and contemplate life.

At the back of the property, a sunny space makes a perfect spot for a large vegetable garden, formally laid out and screened from a neighboring house with tall junipers.

Tall wood-and-wire trellises add additional screening, structure, and support for climbing plants.

The owners of Squire House generously treated us to beverages and refreshments, and we wandered with our glasses, enjoying the garden and the beautiful day. Here are Ally and Layanee being eavesdropped on by an intent young man.

The Texas bloggers — always the largest group from any state at the Fling — posed here for a group shot taken by the mischievous Barbara Wise (thank you, Barbara!). From left to right: Shawn and Laurin of Ravenscourt Gardens (Houston); Pam (moi) of Digging (Austin); Chris of Watching My Garden Grow (Austin); Vicki of Playin’ Outside (Austin); Andrea of Grow Where You’re Planted (College Station); Caroline of The Shovel-Ready Garden (Austin); Ally of Garden Ally (Austin); Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden (Austin); Laura of Wills Family Acres (Austin); Susan of The Bicycle Garden (Lubbock); and Rebecca of Rebecca’s Retreat (Buda).

Up next: A snapshot of Noerenberg Memorial Gardens plus the gardens of nursery owners Steve Kelley & Arla Carmichiel. For a look back at Marge Hols’s elegant St. Paul garden, click here.

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16 Responses

  1. What a lovely and interesting garden. There’s always something that draws me to formality, but this one definitely kicked it up a notch!

  2. What a nice formal yet it doesn’t feel too fussy garden. Good group shot.

  3. I was so taken by the shade garden that I missed the vegetable garden entirely! Yes, black cohosh (Actaea racemosa syn. Cimicifuga racemosa) is also called bugbane, I guess for the reason you give, but I never seem to detect this particular scent.

  4. Layanee says:

    You really wait for the picture don’t you! Lovely. Hard to believe there were over 50 of us touring this small garden. You captured the essence quite well. I do hope that ‘guy’ can keep a secret!

  5. Reading your posts about the Fling gardens makes me doubly sorry I wasn’t able to come. Minneapolis certainly had lots to offer, and I’m the loser for not sharing them with you all.

  6. peter schaar says:

    I love the use of natives and vegetables in a formal design. What do you suppose pollinates bugbane, aka black cohosh? And is “contemplating the garden” your way of saying “petrified”?

  7. Margaret says:

    This was such a lovely garden & I quite enjoyed the talk that the owner gave as well. The gift shop was wonderful too. I purchased a souvenir pot and, as I was lugging it around the airport, I was quite thankful that I went for the smaller version :)

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Ah, those souvenirs that come back to haunt us at the airport. I’ve bought one or two over the years too! But now you’ve got it home and can just enjoy it. —Pam

  8. Laura Wills says:

    Great pics! I only saw about half of this garden, so I enjoyed viewing it from your eyes. I noticed a large number of sundials throughout the Minneapolis gardens. I think I may have to add one of these. They make a spectacular focal point.