STILLWATER, Minn. -- Our live "Share Your Backyard Tour" concludes with a trip to Stillwater, Minnesota to share the beautiful backyard of Ed and Lori Bieging whose gardens are not only full of a diverse group of plants, flowers, birds, and decorations, but have been made more beautiful each year through the help of each member of the Bieging family.
In the fall of 2001, Lori and her husband moved from a 100-year-old house on a 40 foot lot in Stillwater to a bigger house and lot to accommodate their teenage children. Always having been a gardener, Lori was drawn to the larger lot, golf course backdrop and a chance to try her hand with more space. The new yard had the bones of a once professionally landscaped back garden, overgrown with waste high weeds with no sign of perennials, but some good anchor trees. Lori and Ed brought with them some of their favorite plants, including some peonies from long ago, and set all of their plants in any space they could find until they could garden when the warmer weather came.
In the spring of 2002, Lori and her husband dug in the ground for the first time to see what was really in the garden. They started weeding and moving existing plants right away with nothing more than intuition. Lori is not much of a planner, but instead is much more inclined to move a plant until she finds the perfect place for it. This intuition is what prompted Lori and Eds' journey into a constantly evolving and ever growing garden. A memorial fountain, bought in honor of Ed's mother, was their first water feature.
Every year the Bieging's have had some family and friend event: confirmations, high school graduations, college graduations, anniversaries and birthdays. This year their daughter's wedding provided the impetus to make what they view as the perfect garden, only to have the event come, go, and the garden not be quite what Lori wanted. This bit of garden uncertainty is what starts the garden planning for the following year.
A trip to the MN Landscape Arboretum every year provides some inspiration, as well as the purchase of garden items and plants from sales. Lori can never pass up a bargain or new plant, and always finds a new spot to put it, or she will make a new garden to hold it. Some of the garden spaces that were built on the spur-of-the-moment include the pea gravel area. The previous owners that Lori and Ed bought their home from used it as a play area, but they decided a garden would be better suited in that place. A year later, they used rocks collected from the area to create a waterfall and ordered some dirt to create the mound on top. Having ordered too much dirt, Lori and Ed created another garden next to the driveway where the grass would never grow. They often just move or split plants that they already have in order to create their many diverse gardens, while compost from the kitchen and garden pots provides the soil for each season's annual pots and herb garden; basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, oregano, garlic.
Lori and Ed have the perfect working and gardening arrangement within the family. Husband Ed provides the heavy labor and plant moving skills, as well as the beginning and ending of the year preparation and clean up. Lori, being an elementary instructional coach, has some time off during the summer to work in the garden daily to dead head, trim, move plants, water, weed, and try to stay ahead of the Japanese Beatles and moles. The Bieging's son Erik, provides the wood working and finishing skills; new deck, benches, painting old furniture and garage sale finds, welding and painting rusty chairs. Lori and Ed's daughter Margot and new husband Blake provide the inspiration, accolades and motivation to keep doing what they are doing.
Lori and Ed's labor of love hosts not only family and friends, but an abundance of birds and butterflies as well. They have a pair of nesting bluebirds, cedar wax wings, Baltimore orioles, ruby throated humming birds, as well as having loons, hawks, and eagles fly over frequently. The neighboring nine hole executive golf course not only provides a constant green backdrop, but leaves deposits of golf balls in the yard as well since they reside on the fourth green.
If and when Ed and Lori's garden ever is done, they certainly believe it will be time to move. Not even being the middle of August yet, Lori and Ed have already started making garden plans for next summer.
Next week we will have a compilation of all of the backyards that we have toured this summer.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)