Peonies in a row

Peonies in a row Staats_9851If you travel west out of the Twin Cities on Highway 12 you quickly leave the urban life behind for farm fields and open spaces.  We did just that yesterday morning – our destination was Swenson Gardens near Howard Lake.  Celebrating Peony Days at Swenson’s was a true delight – to sight and smell alike.  With fields of peonies in bloom, and a view of the horizon all around, we enjoyed learning about all the different varieties of peonies in so many colors that I’d never seen or known about.  It was a wonderful place to explore and immerse yourself in the sights and smells of late spring.

An amazing and beautiful Twin Cities garden

Last year I had the most delightful opportunity to photograph a Twin Cities garden that was brimming with iris, hostas, peonies, and other flowers and plants.  Patti and Lloyd Weber put all their love of gardening into their yard and garden beds, and the end result is a delightful respite of color and beauty.  With numerous gardens throughout their yard it was a challenge as a photographer to capture each one.  The “Parents and Grandparents Garden” has shrubs and flowers that have been passed down through the families, or ones they remember their relatives tending.  The “Grandchildrens Garden” has round stepping-stones with each child’s footprint and name.  The “Fairy Garden” is a delightful miniature garden with a sign reminding one to “Believe.”  There’s even a “Hosta Hospital” where Lloyd cares for those plants needing a bit more TLC before going back into the main gardens.  Everywhere I looked there was something to catch and delight my eye and cause me to slow down and capture the photograph.  I visited the Webers many times last year and each time there was something new to see and photograph.  It was a challenge to narrow down my submission images for the feature article that has just been published in the May/June issue of Northern Gardener Magazine.  The iris on the cover shown here is “Orangutan Orange” and is one of over 100 different iris that grace their gardens.  If you’re in the Minnesota area pick up a copy of the magazine and enjoy the beauty of the Webers’ gardens, their personalities, and their passions that are featured in the article.  Northern Gardener Magazine is published by the Minnesota State Horticultural Society.  For more information, please check their website at

Autumn carpet

Autumn carpet 51484_StaatsThis may have been our last weekend for fall color here in the Twin Cities.  As the past week progressed we had cooler temps, rain, and more wind, culminating in yet another early snowfall on Friday.  With all these conditions the leaves have been falling much more regularly, carpeting the lawns, sidewalks, and streets.  I took a walk along the Mississippi River Road on the Saint Paul side of the River.  The temps were mild and there were many people enjoying the sights and smells of autumn.  Along the path I saw a small grouping of trees that had lost all their red leaves.  At first I was disappointed that I hadn’t seen their vibrant display a few days earlier, and then I realized that the leaves were still just as stunning except that they were carpeting the ground.  By lying down on this lush carpet (and confusing many of the passers-by), I was able to focus on the covering of red and gold and remind myself that sometimes the beauty of fall isn’t just at eye level and on the trees, but is often spread out before us at our feet.