The Garden Drama “Best of the Twin Cities” Gardening Issue

In the spirit of the City Pages annual “Best of” issue, Garden Drama is releasing its first annual “Best of” in the gardening world issue. There is a lot to love about gardening in the North, in particular, the Twin Cities and Minnesota, so the choices were tough. At times, the decisions were nearly impossible to make, but here we go:

Best reason for gardening
Serenity, peace of mind and sense of personal accomplishment. The sense of affecting positive, personal change can’t be beat, in yourself and your surroundings. You will be the true master of your own domain.

Best overlooked reason to garden
It makes you sexier. You will lose weight, get fit, lean and strong and you will glow from the inside out. Gardeners are forces of nature.

Best local garden center for fullfilling your fantasies
Tangletown Gardens. This little jewel at the corner of Nicollet and 53rd, just south of Minnehaha Parkway is porn for the gardener. A visual treat, they also have top-notch plants and varieties you would never imagine. Now, this summer you can even eat there. A trip to their shop is balm for the soul in the middle of the winter. Also, don’t miss their garden and art tour.

Best plant for your shade garden
Hakone grass. Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola.’ A great grass for sun or full shade, actually. It gives you an arching form, with a wowza, pop of chartreuse greenish/yellow, like nothing else can do. Some say it is a zone 5 plant, but I know lots of zone 4-ers who grow it. Get it.

Best plant for your northern sunny border
‘David’ Phlox. I know, I know. Not as trendy and kicky as some of the new, bizarre echinaceas or as urbane as a Ligularia Dentata. It’s not even that new of an introduction, but I love it. Pert and pretty, it never loses its summer garden hard-on as it reaches a regal 5 feet in the full sun. The blooms come mid-summer and it may give you a second bloom later on. Oh, and the fragrance. Like perfume. It is the best of new garden introductions while still taking you back to your Grandma’s old fashioned border.

Best re-seeding annual/biennial
Verbena bonariensis. The multitude of purple pom-poms dance atop the branching stems at 4 feet or so. A mass planting is a beautiful prairie-in-the-city effect. Once you establish them in your garden, you will have them forever. Keep an eye out for the little seedlings toward the end of of May.

Best gardening trend
Perennials in containers. It used to be that only annuals made their way into containers, but not the case these days. Adding perennials to your containers creates a lot of impact and is cost-effective. Instead of sending your container contents to the compost bib at the end of the season, they can go in the ground.

Best recent gardening innovation
The internet. Personally, most new gardening tools and gadgets end up in my box for Goodwill, but I sometimes need to stop and ponder how much the web has added to my gardening experience. From connecting socially with other plant heads, to checking plant reviews, to researching great gardens to visit, being online is a God-send to gardeners. Better living through science.

Best gardening magazine
Northern Gardener. You can’t beat it. Every word applies to gardening here in Minnesota and it supports an organization that is all  about gardening in the North, the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. Runners-up? Fine Gardening and Garden Design.

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