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.
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.
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?