NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Don’t Miss David and Ty’s Stunning Tulip Garden in Seward!


Tulip Aleo

Names: David Naugle & Jerome (Ty) Neal

How long have you been residents of Seward? 22 years

Occupation: Ty – S&R Clerk for Detex, Inc.  Dave – Seasonal employee at Minnehaha Falls Nursery

While I was strolling down your block I suddenly felt like I was transported to Holland! What has been other people’s reaction when they discover your spectacular yard? Ty: People who stop have been amazed by at the color of tulips that we have planted in the garden over the past 20 years. When we point out to them that there is an enormously wide variety of shapes and sizes of tulips, I think the one thing that surprises them the most is the variety of delicate wild tulips from Central Asia that are the ancestors of all domesticated tulips.  Dave:  Interestingly, people will ask us if it’s OK if they take pictures of our garden and the flowers.  We have never considered fencing in our garden or restricting the neighborhood’s access to it.  In fact when we asked our neighbors if we could expand the gardens up to the side of their house on the north and they graciously approved the idea, we added a pathway wide enough for wheelchair access.

How did you get into gardening? Ty: I’ve always been a gardener and so has Dave, but when we bought our house in the Seward Neighborhood this gave us the opportunity to finally do the kind of gardening we wanted to do.  Dave:  I grew up in the countryside in Michigan and my father had an expansive lawn with a large vegetable garden.  I promised myself that I would have as little lawn as possible and as much garden as I could.  Ty: We started out small with gardens in various parts of the yard and the boulevard and kept expanding them until we finally had them surrounding the house.  Much of the plantings at first were trial and error, some trees were removed to create more sun and some shrubs we originally had put in we eventually took out to allow for more space for flowers. Dave:  We put a lot of work into native perennials and wildflowers, particularly in the shady areas of our gardens and for variety of plants Ty has been doing his own starters from seeds early indoors for years now.

Tulip garden and path

Tip-toe among the tulips.

How have tulips become your focus? Is there something special about gardening with spring bulbs? Ty: I think because of the variety of tulips bulbs and that they do so well in this zone. One of the real reasons I suppose is that after a long winter it’s so great to have the massive amounts of color early in the spring, not only with tulips, but crocuses, hyacinth, squill, snow drops, and of course daffodils.  Dave: I think if we could we would probably be Dutch, since we’ve been to the Netherlands 8 times, but never when the tulips are in blooms so this is our way of compensating for missing that special time there.

Do you have a favorite flower? Ty: White Bride Nigella, an airy, understated blossom on a fernlike stem.  It’s a great annual that reseeds itself.  Dave: Allium Schurberti, a short stalked allium that looks like a fireworks explosion.

Where do you find inspiration? Ty: Online resources and seed catalogs. Walking through our neighborhood and looking at what other people are doing with their gardens is always a source of inspiration for both of us.  Often I see things in gardens as I’m biking around the city too, then come home and research it online. 

Tulipa Acuminata

Tulipa Acuminata

Do you have a particular planning process? Dave: We photograph the garden regularly so that we have reminders of where the plants, particularly the spring bulbs are. Thank goodness for digital cameras.  I love to take close up shots of individual flowers more than wide shots of the garden, but we both take pictures of the entire garden for planning and to have during the winter months to enjoy.  I use a small program that allows me to stitch together sequential pictures into very large panoramas for wide views of sections of the garden.  This has been quite helpful at times. Other than that, we have what is probably called a Cottage Garden and have allowed plants to flourish where there do well.  We thin them when they intrude too much and move them to areas that need more. Each spring we put composted manure all over the garden and in the fall cover it well with mulched leaves, raking off most, but not all in the following spring.  

Why do you enjoy about gardening? Are there any challenges that you face with your garden? Ty: I just like getting my hands in the dirt.  It’s so personally rewarding to see all the plants that come out of the ground each spring and summer.  I love having flowers blooming all the time.  The worst problems we’ve had other than squirrels and rabbits on occasion is a big infestation of slugs last summer.  When we first did the big expansion of the gardens to the neighbor’s house we had black dirt hauled in to add to rather poor soil.  Other than the manure, we just add our own compost to the garden. Dave: It turned from a small hobby into more of a full time summer job, but one that I love, too.  We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it so much.  For a short while we tried growing vegetables but gave up because the rabbits defeated us and I let our raspberries take over the vegetable garden.  Gardening should never be a struggle and should always be a delight.

Do you find that creating a beautiful front garden display is contagious – have others been inspired by your efforts?  Dave: Though we’re aware that gardening isn’t for everyone, many of our neighbors have become avid gardeners in their own right.  We’d like to think that we helped to inspire them.  Often people have asked us about beginning gardens and I’m honest about the amount of work and joy that I find in digging in the dirt, weeding and growing plants.  It’s my Zen.  

Tulips along the boulevard

A strip of Holland along the boulevard.

Do you have any tips for others wishing to create a beautiful spring garden? Ty: Look for bulbs when they are on sale late in the fall.  They may not all be in good condition, but you’ll get plenty of flowers from the ones that are.  It’s a good way to fill in and have a lot of color, particularly for cut flowers.  I search the internet for deals on bulbs starting in August and they’ll ship in the fall for planting.  I have avoided the retailers locally because they don’t have the variety that I am looking for.  We have other perennials such as lilies, lady’s mantel, poppies, corn flowers, Virginia blue bells, alliums, irises and annuals such as annual hibiscus, nigella, and rainbow sage.  The list is endless because once the tulip has bloomed and the leaves have browned, the leaves and stem can be removed in a rather short period of time.

What do you like about living/gardening in Seward? We love living in the Seward Neighborhood and there are many beautiful gardens throughout the area of all types and sizes.  One of the most impressive gardens is just up the street from us, but a bit hidden from view in a side/back yard – an amazing oriental garden.  

Our Seward Neighbors: David and Ty

Our Seward Neighbors: David and Ty

What will follow your spectacular spring display? Ty: The wild flowers are in bloom and will continue, including bleeding heart, jack-in-the-pulpit, trilliums, wild geraniums, Canadian anemone, columbine. Then we’ll have spurge, lilies, prickly pear, peonies, sweet William, and primrose.  There are so many different plants spread throughout the gardens that are in bloom at different times that it’s actually difficult to remember them all.

Stroll by David and Ty’s spring display and don’t forget your camera: 2311 22nd Ave. South (Mpls)

Neighborhood Notes are updates about what’s happening in Twin Cities neighborhoods, submitted by our volunteer neighborhood correspondents (and neighborhood residents), and not edited by the TC Daily Planet. Click to learn more about our neighborhood correspondents, or about becoming a neighborhood correspondent.