CARAG Garden Tour celebrates Tenth Anniversary

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Are you a serious gardener who wishes you could peek in your neighbor’s backyard to see what they are planting? Or, are you new to gardening and don’t even have a clue where to begin? Well, you could always grab a ladder and inconspicuously peer over the neighbor’s fence or read a book on gardening. Better yet, you could attend the CARAG Garden Tour, a free annual tour highlighting some exquisite gardens throughout the CARAG neighborhood.

The Tenth Annual CARAG Garden Tour took place on June 16, 18 and 20. Each of the 22 participating gardens was showcased on one of these three tour dates. Tour coordinator Margaret McGlynn led neighbors and fellow gardening enthusiasts on a walking tour through the spectacular gardens around the CARAG neighborhood.

The CARAG Garden Tour was the brainchild of four members of the Livability Committee, a task force committee of the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP). The members were looking for ways to get neighbors to know each other while also improving the neighborhood. The group got the idea from a similar garden tour one of the members attended in Illinois.

The Livability Committee picked the participants on the tour by distributing flyers to houses with beautiful gardens and asking neighbors and friends to join in on the fun. McGlynn described the Garden Tour as “a good way for people to meet their neighbors and see beautiful gardens. It brings together the neighborhood.”

One of the highlights of the tour was Jerry Burg’s elegant garden in the 3300 block of Emerson Avenue. Burg started working on his meticulously detailed garden in 1998. Burg’s front yard contains a serene Japanese rock garden inspired by the Huntington Library’s Japanese Garden in Pasadena.

Reminiscent of a traditional Japanese Zen garden, Burg uses crushed white limestone in the smallest grade available and a hand-made rake to make tranquil patterns in the ground. Every year he adds more stunning details making it a favorite stop on the Garden Tour.

Burg describes his garden as “my attempt to create an outdoor space that provides a variety of different environments with a focus on texture and the serenity of the neighborhood.” He chooses plants that look great all year round and stated “it’s an all-year space to be in as much as I can and look at as much I can.”

Steve Thomas’ garden on the 3300 block of Colfax Avenue has participated in all ten years of the tour. Since he bought his house in 1987, Thomas has been dutifully growing and maintaining his lavish garden. Thomas acquired cobblestones from the original Hennepin and Washington Avenues to build his front and back walkways. In the backyard, there are other historical artifacts like the charming restored lamp from Summit Avenue and the brightly painted red bench from Nicollet Mall.

Thomas’ gardening strategy is to fill the patio area with perennials in pots in May and then transfer them to the front yard a week or two after Labor Day. This insures that the garden is ever changing year after year and that he never gets bored with the view.

Are you a seasoned gardener looking for something new to plant? Thomas would like to recommend his favorite plant, the Amethyst Flower or Browallia an annual which blooms for an entire season, “because they are so underused, they’re as easy as impatiens, just plant them” and forget about them. Thomas’ advice for new gardeners: “Just get started, its all trial and error. I usually try something two or three times and if it doesn’t come back, I just give up on it. Pick something that appeals to you and shove it in a pot.”

Connie Clair, a gardening novice, lives in ECCO.