Richfield garden tourists can now vote for their favorites

Two annual events meant to highlight Richfield’s colorful array of gardens are being combined into one.

The Richfield Garden Club’s Beautiful Garden Tour takes place 1-5 p.m. Saturday, July 30, but with a new twist: The tourists can now vote on their favorite gardens.

As voted on by city staff and garden club members, the separate Richfield in Bloom Awards honored residents for their efforts to beautify their yards and neighborhoods, but difficulty attracting candidates and judging the nominations prompted organizers to combine the events, according to Richfield Garden Club President Susan Rosenberg. Now, the voting is open to anyone on the garden tour.

“We’re calling it People’s Choice,” Rosenberg said.

Considering the strife and calamity that streams into the collective consciousness every day, gardens play important roles as refuges, Rosenberg believes.

“Considering all that’s going on in this world, to sit out in your garden is so peaceful,” she said.

It lets people stop and notice life around them, Rosenberg added.

“Life is celebrated every five minutes in a garden,” she waxed, noting the forms that are constantly sprouting and shriveling atop of a fertile bed of soil.

Just three years ago, that was far from the scene in the yard of Mary Shannon, who had just moved to Richfield after marrying husband Bob. Their yard on the 7000 block of Logan Avenue was a blank slate.

Shannon, who works as a registered nurse, treated it like a canvas, and now, her yard is one of 10 on the Beautiful Garden Tour. It includes a waterfall, a collection of rocks and boulders, and a vibrant assortment of plants, some of which Shannon imported from a much older garden.

She still owns her former house in Roseville, where she inherited a well-established garden when she moved there 11 years ago; the previous owner had taken care of the garden for 50 years.

“Her life was gardening,” Shannon said, who felt a duty to keep the plants flourishing.

“I was really entrusted with this garden,” she explained.

Shannon honored that commitment by splicing some of the garden’s perennials and bringing them to Richfield. Some of those are flowering peony plants, which have sprouted and returned to the earth countless times.

“I have no idea how old these peonies are,” Shannon said, “but the plants in Roseville were just enormous.”

The peonies stand amongst other perennials, lilies, sunflowers and a vegetable garden. Also standing is a new shed, half of which serves as office space – insulated and air conditioned – for Shannon’s husband.

“So he has his own little retreat place, and it overlooks the waterfall,” Shannon said.

She gets plenty of use of the garden as well, calling it “my own little slice of paradise in my backyard that I like to retreat to.”

She isn’t thinking just of herself, though.

“I’m glad that my front yard is attractive for all who walk by,” she said, “because we have a lot of foot traffic in this neighborhood.”

Contact Andrew Wig at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.