By Barbara DeGroot
Innovative, adventurous and always relevant, the Arboretum’s Home Demo Gardens never fail to engage and delight visitors. This year is no exception. Arboretum gardener extraordinaire Ted Pew shares a few highlights:
Edible Pollinator Garden
This garden is designed to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Bamboo “teepee” structures support Phoenix climbing nasturtiums (reds & oranges) and heirloom Golden Marie beans. Also featured: Imperial Star artichokes, the small and roundish Thai Yellow Egg eggplant, Kilimanjaro white marigolds (yes, white!), Swiss chard (Bright Lights), Eleonora basil, salvia Pink Sunday, rhubarb, English lavender, day lilies and plum trees. And don’t miss the compact, red popcorn plant – Two Inch Strawberry – so named because its cobs resemble the aforementioned fruit. Likewise, the Orange Banana tomato!
The main vegetable bed (garden for a family of four) will feature a rainbow theme, with waves of plants in rainbow hues – from violet, indigo and blue to green, yellow, orange and red. From eggplant to radishes and everything in between; there’s even a blue tomato!
Other home-demo specialty gardens include: AAS Seasonal Garden, Intensive Veggie Bed (aka, Bean Garden), Root Vegetable Garden, Pizza Garden and an Ornamental Veggie Bed (aka Oddball Garden for its unusual plants). And don’t miss the Teaching Garden.
Also focusing on pollinator-friendly veggies and flowers, especially zinnias, the Teaching Garden spotlights several top winners from the Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Seed Trials over the past 35 years.
Pew lists his favorite “pollinator plus” zinnias – State Fair Mix, California Giant, Zinnia Zowie Yellow Flame, Uproar Rose, Benary’s Giant and Orange Profusion.
You’ll also find: Brussel sprouts – Jade Cross and Hestia, both All-America selections; leeks– American Flag and Lancelot; celery – Tall Utah and Conquistador; cucumber – Marketmore; winter squash – Sweet Mama, Ponca and Table Queen; and many more selections. The Teaching Garden is located just outside the west entrance to the Visitor Center.
All in all, lots of inspiration for home gardeners!