Group Discount

Today’s guest post comes from Renee in North Dakota

It is only to be hoped that the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage will have a salutary effect on the price of admission to the McCrory Gardens in Brookings, SD, the largest public garden in the region outside of Omaha and the Twin Cities.

Admission used to be free, according to my son and daughter-in-law, but was increased to $6.00 and the 25 acre Formal Garden site fenced in and closed each day after 8:00pm due to public safety concerns and vandalism in the wee hours of the morning. Locals were quite unhappy with the decision to put up a fence and limit access. The 45 acre arboretum remains unfenced and open 24 hours a day.

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We traipsed around these most beautiful gardens during a recent visit to Brookings. This August marks the 50th anniversary of the gardens, named after a former Horticulture professor at South Dakota State University. The site is on the campus and is affiliated with the Plant Science department. 40,000 annuals and perennials are planted each year, and I imagine there are scads of Horticulture students and budding landscape architects who have worked like navvies to maintain and improve the gardens.

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There is a children’s hedge maze, a cottage garden, AAS field plots, a rock garden, and wonderfully designed garden plots dotting the landscape at every turn, loaded with annuals and perennials and shrubs and vines. The cottage by the cottage garden is a former gas station. I found it quite charming and I included a photo of it. The site also boasts of the largest selection of maple trees in South Dakota. The leaves in my other photo are from a Harlequin maple tree.

The linden trees were in bloom, scenting the air with an elusive, sweet perfume that took us quite a while to identify. Staff were setting up for a garden wedding, and we could see the bridal party having photos taken. I wonder when the first gay wedding will take place there? Perhaps the increase in weddings will help lower or even abolish the entrance fee. One can only hope. Gardens are always changing and shifting with the seasons, and so does the social fabric, even in the Dakotas.

You have 70 acres, a large budget, and an army of eager and willing horticulturists. What kind of garden would you have?

 

85 thoughts on “Group Discount”

  1. daylilies hosta peonies iris and native plants doing a perrenial thing then over in the the berry section id mix it up with with raspberries strawberries and blueberries lingonberries huckleberries and mulberries if i could keep them under control.
    a corner for azalias and rhodadendrens and a rose garden where they would all be named bruce

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  2. Everything that tim mentioned. Plus lots of little statues of animals and children’s lit characters for kids to climb all over. And benches for two in the shady areas. Lovely big umbrellas that folks can borrow while they walk around. And free iced tea and lemonade.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons:

    Great topic Renee. Thanks.

    Give these parameters, I will request a duplicate of the Kueckenhof Gardens in Holland. They display 80 hectares of bulbs during 6 weeks in the spring. (Maybe I will get a blog written about this place). It is stunning.

    I like the big budget and lots of gardeners. Works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea of the bulbs. Although my name is Dutch, I am told that we are only an ethnic minority in the Netherlands. There is something about spring bulbs that makes me embrace Dutchness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother over McCrory. Was jealous over the flowers the 25 years they lived there. In the end we would take her by wheelchair.

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  5. I know better than to prove my ignorance about this topic by saying what I’d like. One of the startling discoveries I made while dating in my 60s was that some gardeners hate some flowers, considering them in vile taste. A woman I dated shocked me with her fervent contempt for the flowers surrounding a neighbor’s, flowers that looked pretty to me. The choice of flower disgusted her. Does anyone remember the movie “Sideways” where Miles has a hissy fit over “xxxing Merlot!”? So there are flower snobs just as there are wine snobs, and I’m not informed enough to have good taste in either field.

    Love that cottage photo, Renee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a gas station from near Lake Preston, SD. I don’t know how old it is or if it was one of a kind or if there were other, similar buildings.

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      1. For many years there was an identical cottage that had been a gas station. It was on the north side of Highway 12 in Howard Lake, or close to it. Those places sold gas in the 1920s. There was just room for one person to wait for customers out of the weather.

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      2. Moose Lake has a similar little gas station that just closed…it would be lovely if someone turned it into a similar “cottage” and surrounded it with a garden. It is for sale.

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    2. Not only are there flower snobs, there are flower gardening pecking orders!

      Orchid growers consider themselves to be the top of the heap. I suspect my gardening style–Midwest farm leftovers that I learned to love and imported to the suburbs–would be a lowly entry into the gardening world. However, when the people who organize garden tours recruit you to show your garden, it is all beautiful and wonderful. Then when you see the write-up, you understand that this garden just does not cut it.

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      1. I have an orchid blooming on the dining room table right now, but it’s “only” a phalaenopsis-even in orchids there is a pecking order.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I’d definitely have a classic Japanese garden with a stream, mini waterfall, mosses, maples, and koi pond. Herb and dye garden, moon garden (night-blooming plants), fruit and nut orchard, and an English cottage garden designed for bees. Come to think of it, with 70 acres, I could even set aside a few for the flax I was talking about a week or so back, and a pasture for mohair or cashmere goats. Finally, for a druidic touch, a stone circle in a grove of Ogham trees (oak, ash, rowan, and so on). Ideally, I’d also be able to build a hobbit house and live on the grounds. Yeah, that’d be nice…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The flax is blooming out here now. What a beautiful color. I was always somewhat puzzled as a child by Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair. Who would want blue hair?

      Liked by 5 people

    2. I think I will just come visit your garden.

      I’d want wine grapes and hops growing on the sides of the Hobbit house too.

      And a duck pond.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hops are really fun to grow. We grow them on the south side of our deck. They grow up to 25 feet a year and then die back to the ground when it freezes. Husband has been battling fungal blight and sprays then with something called Neem oil that seems to be helping a great deal. He gives the hops to his barber to make beer.

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        1. I gave some plants to my brother years ago and they have covered a shed he has.

          He brews, but I have yet to taste the beer.

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  7. I like flowers, but what I would really want is plenty to eat. All laid out to be as productive, yet artistic as possible.

    I cannot quite wrap my head around designing 75 acres, even with staff.

    How big is the Minnesota Arboretum? Haven’t been there in years, but love that place-ditto the Como Conservatory.

    Maybe the Arboretum with the Conservatory plopped in it someplace?

    George and Martha Washington had a nice kitchen garden and orangery. The kitchen garden at Lee’s house in Arlington Cemetery is also quite nice.

    I used to hang out at both of those with my book back in my DC apartment dwelling days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were only offered 70 acres, mig, you can’t just grab another five.

      The Mn. Arb has 1,137 acres, so a lot more.

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      1. If I had 70 acres of my own, I probably wouldn’t have much time to spend in your garden, PJ, sorry. If I did have a role at your place it would be as a consulting manager of some sort. Somebody younger and more energetic would have to do the real work.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! Mine to admire and share and to wander out on pleasant dew-damp mornings with a vintage wicker basket on my arm to cut a few perfect blooms to make exquisite arrangements to scent and beautify my charming and well-kept home, while staff lovingly toils and sweats to maintain the gardens as healthy, productive, and beautiful tributes to my good sense in hiring their expertise.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. Marvelous post, Renee, and what lovely photos, too.

    This post made me think of Rosalie Sorrels and her Report From Grimes Creek. Her description of the two very different gardens, and gardening styles, of her two grandmothers. One, very orderly and refined, the other, natural and wild. I love that recording, and how well it captures the passions of that remarkable family.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I would just enjoy having some space with available sunlight. My hostas, ferns, lily of the valley and day lilies do OK in my shady yard but I have to ignore 75% of what is offered in nurseries. Having 70 acres (or even 1/10 acre) with daylong sun would open a whole new world.
    So I’ll specify a seemingly endless field of sunflowers.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Good morning. I like growing all kinds of plants and would have no trouble filling up 70 acres if I had the resources to do that. I would start with a wide selection of heirloom vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and grains. Then i might follow the suggestion of Alan Kapular, a devoted seed saver, and bring together plants from all over the world from one or plant selected plant families. I would need to do some research to pick the family or families to include.

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    1. Thought of you this past weekend when we stopped at Seed Savers, Jim.

      I could happily live there, and yes, you could all come for the weekend when Greg Brown comes to sing.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve done garden maintenance as my livelihood for nearly 15 years. Although I appreciate and admire an orderly, well-tended perennial garden, I actually don’t have all that much interest in having one of my own. If I really found myself the owner of 70 acres, my tendency would be to think about how to put the resource to its best use. That might include some small-scale sustainable farming with a seed-saving element, as Jim suggests; some trees for carbon sequestration; prairie restoration for pollinators; wetland for wildlife habitat, a power plant with wind and solar…
    It would probably also include a margin of ditches ringing the property which would be filled with daylilies. People keep digging up daylilies and dumping them at the compost sites. Apparently orange daylilies are considered passé, or too pedestrian for today’s Smith & Hawken urban gardens. I’d give them all to my crew to fill up the ditches so they could bloom there to their hearts’ content.
    I suppose I would save out an acre or so for a more traditional garden, with some hydrangeas and rhododrendrons and hollyhocks and tulips, and one or two really hardy roses.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I guess if orange lilies are passé, then I’m the Princess of Passé at my house. I have them everywhere. Along with light pink, medium pink, dark pink, peach, light yellow, dark yellow, purple….. bring `em all on!

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  12. Great garden ideas! I would be tempted to use a chunk of the 70 acres as a huge patchwork quilt: square fields – one of, say, sunflowers, one of flax, one of lavender, one of red tulips, yellow tulips, something pink… you get the picture. Then one would have to figure out how to get them all to grow at the same time.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love the structure that used to be a gas station. Must’ve been in the days before gas stations had to have milk and cigarettes and muffins and coffee and DVD rental and all that stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those dinky gas stations were also from a different (earlier) time than the ones of my childhood. When I was a kid, when you pulled in at a gas station your car would be swarmed by attendants and pump jockeys who would wash the windows, take oil pressure and fill your tank. You can see this in the first “Back to the Future” movie. People didn’t start pumping their own gas until maybe the 1990s. I didn’t like pumping my own. Now I live in a state where it is basically illegal to pump your own. It feels decadent to sit in the car while someone pumps and does the paperwork for me.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. What kind of sense does that make, Steve? Self-pumping cuts down on employment as near as I can tell.

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      1. I worked pumping gas at a Clark 100 station at Seven Corners the winter of 1968. I think it was the worst job I ever had. The station was open 24 hours, which meant that some of my shifts went through the night. The worst was when it was -20F and 2:00 AM, when the bars were closing. There were times when the flow of cars into the station was so constant that I didn’t get back into the station for hours.
        The manager would come in the morning to count receipts and if you were short, he would dock it from your pay. He was the one doing the counting and, suspiciously by his tally, everyone always came up short. Consequently, the attendants devised ways to compensate for his skimming. One ruse I remember was with the gasoline additive HEET, which came in a metal can with a pry-off cap. After selling a can, we would always retrieve the cap and replace it on the empty can. For the rest of the night, we would pantomime adding the HEET, using the empty can and replacing the cap after each customer drove away. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. Sometimes injustice and desperation drives you to unworthy devices.

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  14. I have 75 acres…around the house I “garden” with trees because they get taller than the quack grass which has taken over former flower gardens. The 10 acre pasture includes wild flowers and milkweed for pollinators and some grass for horses. The rest of the land is wild, mixed forest. A year or two ago I hired a forester to create a forest management plan…and when I told her I didn’t have any intention of doing anything with it, she said that’s a way of “managing” it. Leave if for the wildlife, is my motto. Though last year I found that I had some 30 volunteer crabapple trees growing in the pasture. Last year ten of them bloomed and bore fruit. More “management” for the wildlife.

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    1. What do you grow your grapes on? Ours grow up the west side of the deck and shade the deck and the house from the sun. Our deck has tall verticals with an arbor overy the top.

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      1. One group of grapes grow on bent cattle panels, another on the chicken coop and the original vines now climb up the box elder and side of the house. There is one more vine growing up a dead tree trunk, but are currently hidden from view by the sumac growing around the trunk base. I had one more vine growing on another bent cattle panel, but it didn’t survive last winter. (cattle panels are six foot long by four feet high “woven” wire sturdy enough to keep cattle (and goats) inside pastures. But they bend nicely into u-shapes for the grapes.)

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      1. Don’t we get to stipulate that the weather is always fabulous in our garden, with most of the rain at night… although a few afternoons of gentle rain in a garden can be glorious.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. A garden? Does livestock count? If so, my daughter has a 100 acre garden filled with 90 horses. How I wish I knew how to post a video because there’s one of opening up her pasture with 90 horses galloping out for their first taste of a real pasture. Steve – can you possibly post this for me? It’s the largest horse ranch in the state and thrilling to watch.

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  16. Are we making the assumption that our acreage is in Minnesota? If not, I might want mine in an area where California poppies can flourish. Or Texas bluebonnets.

    No matter where, seventy acres of wildflowers, berries and native trees sound glorious to me. I’d want the land to be hilly with a creek rippling through it, and perhaps a small lake. A sanctuary for wildlife: butterflies, birds, and furry critters of all kinds. Walking trails for birders and others who want a close encounter with nature would lead to a series of natural shelters with benches. Places to rest and enjoy a quiet respite.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. 70 acres…my mind is boggled by such a huge space. Even growing up on some acreage, we had just 8 acres and my mom had huge gardens.

    I’m partial to fruit and herbs. So I would grow raspberries, gooseberries, black currants, red currants. rhubarb, strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, gooseberries, and probably a few more that I can’t think of right now. For herbs – just about anything. Basil (several kinds), rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, chives, curry plant, tarragon, mint, oregano, and a few dozen other herbs that I haven’t tried yet.

    I’m sure there would be space left over after all that, so I would have some chickens (to help with fertilizing the garden), lots of compost piles, and some vegetable beds (heirloom veggies). I would also definitely leave some space to just grow wild – woods, brambles, a creek all sound good. And a very small house for me, a bit bigger than a Tiny House.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. OT – Q: What’s better than homemade dolmades?

    A: My friend and neighbor, Helen, bringing me a freshly made batch along with home made flatbread.

    I already have freshly made hummus in the fridge, plus some calamata olives and artichoke hearts. Tomorrow’s dinner with no effort at all. Now all I need is to buy a nice bottle of wine, and we’re good to go. I love my life!

    Liked by 1 person

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