OurLife: New Hope gardener finds tending to blossoms, plants is therapeutic

The front entry to the Sather home in New Hope is decorated with plants. (Photo by Sue Webber)


Contributing Writer

For 40 years, Dyanne Sather has nurtured a yard full of blossoms, plants and shrubs in New Hope.

“As soon as the snow is gone, I’m out here,” Sather said. “It’s my therapy.”

Husband Arne agrees: “It’s her life,” he said. “The only thing she has more of than plants is books and magazines about plants.”

The Sathers’ corner lot is ringed with hedges that set off gardens all the way around the yard. “We have a wild garden on the corner that isn’t under control yet,” Dyanne said.

A small garden in the middle of the front yard features a statute of a lamb, reminiscent of the lambs Dyanne remembers from her days growing up on a farm in North Dakota.

The gracefully curving front steps are lined with plants and flowers. Sather grows mostly perennials, but also has annuals in pots, hanging baskets and in borders around the yard.

Iris in a wide variety of shades are in bloom all over the Sather gardens. (Photo by Sue Webber)

Tall lilies and daylilies are among Sather’s favorite flower varieties. But, she said, “I really like the spring bulbs, too. They’re the first to come up. I love hostas. Each season is different.”

Old-fashioned coral bells bloom all summer. Bleeding hearts, foxglove, peonies and woodland poppies are visible, plus irises in a variety of shades.

“Everything bloomed early this year,” Sather said. “The daylilies bloomed in June. There’s something new opening every day.”

Many varieties and sizes of hostas grow along the side of the house, including a blue and yellow plant, one that’s all blue, and a plethora of green plants.

She points out the digitalis (foxglove). “The bees love it,” she said.

There’s even a patch of mint, featuring both pineapple and chocolate varieties.

Growing up on the farm in North Dakota, Dyanne said, her mom always had gardens, though they were predominately vegetables. But she remembers petunias and some other flowers growing there, too.

Many varieties and sizes of hostas grow along the side of the house. (Photo by Sue Webber)

Arne, who retired 15 years ago from his career as a senior tax consultant for what is now Xcel Energy, grew up on a farm in Donnelly, Minnesota, that now is rented. He still returns there monthly to work, sometimes bringing rocks home to augment Dyanne’s gardens. He also spends time working at a daughter’s home in Minnetonka.

Dyanne is a member of the New Hope Back Acres Garden Club, as well as the Hennepin County Horticulture Society. She has a plant sale each spring, and sponsors a plant exchange in the fall.

In 2012, Dyanne won New Hope’s RAVE! Award, one of several awards the city presents each year for outstanding residential yards and gardens. Her gardens were featured on Cable Channel 12 last year.

As she tours visitors through her garden, Dyanne is knowledgeable about the names and origins of each species. “I’m kind of self-educated,” said Sather, a retired nurse. “I don’t put anything bad in the garden. I don’t use insecticides.”

She subscribes to three British gardening magazines, preferring them to American gardening magazines filled with advertisements.

Dyanne Sather has maintained a yard full of blossoms, plants and shrubs in New Hope for 40 years. (Photo by Sue Webber)

“I’d rather pay twice as much and get more information,” Sather said.

Some years, she starts plants indoors during the winter. But once spring comes, she spends five to six hours a day gardening. Even when it rains, she sits outside under the front overhang of the house to work on potting plants.

“Houses with not even a bush look naked,” she said. “They have no personality.”

Two summers ago, the Sathers enjoyed a 10-day cruise sponsored by Garden World magazine that took them from South Hampton in England north to a private garden on the first day, then on to Ireland and the Outer Hebrides and Shetland Islands. They saw Shetland ponies and 5,000-year old ruins before heading east down the southern coast of England. “We saw a lot of beautiful gardens and learned about some wonderful history,” Dyanne said.

The couple, who have three daughters and seven grandchildren, try to get to England every year to visit daughter Kathryn in Altrincham, and to Seattle several times a year to visit daughter Krista. Daughter Kari lives in Minnetonka.

During the winter, both Sathers sing in the choir at their church. Dyanne also knits, reads, sews and goes to Bible study classes.

She is a willing mentor/consultant to other gardeners, and has conducted tours of her yard for garden clubs and church groups. “I keep giving plants away and encouraging everyone,” Sather said.