See A Garden, Meet A Neighborhood

Have you ever gone by a house and seen a yard that you want to explore, but are afraid to ask? Do you like to plagiarize ideas from others’ yards (I do)?  If so, local garden tours are for you.


This past Saturday was the Saint Anthony Park Garden Club’s tour. Ten gardens and gardeners in the northern environs of Saint Anthony Park. Note that this is not Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony Village or any other Saint Anthony, but Saint Anthony Park. Locals are quite firm on making sure you know this.

At her house on Doswell Avenue, we saw Mary Lerman and her famous red barn. Mary is a former horticulturist for the City of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Department and past chair of the Minnesota State Horticulture Society. You can’t see Mary without learning something about plants and the environment. Today she showed me two ferns that will soon be added to our garden; Dre’s Dagger and Tatting, both dwarf cultivars of Lady Fern.


A couple of blocks up Hythe Street, we saw Dan Peterson who owns the landscaping outfit Habadapt. This is a guy with an artistic eye and an intimate knowledge of plants (particularly natives). When he combines his talents and knowledge the result is a quite wonderful garden (or rain garden).


Every garden had a master gardener available to answer questions about the garden you are looking at or about your own garden. These folks are volunteers; they are knowledgable and worth their weight in compost (gardeners gold). We took some gardening tidbit away from every gardener we visited.

But Wait, There’s More (RIP Billy Mays)

Perhaps an even better aspect to these tours — you get to meet a neighborhood.


On Saturday, we had brunch at Muffuletta in Saint Anthony (A Salmon Omelet and Riesling on a patio make for a good start to a neighborhood tour). From there we walked around the northern part of Saint Anthony Park to visit five of the ten gardens on the tour.

Besides seeing the gardens, we also met each owner, each of whom is a proud resident of Saint Anthony Park. They know gardening but they also know the neighborhood and why they like it there. And people who live here wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Walking between gardens you’ll also meet other neighbors who are working or playing in their yards or just enjoying a nice breeze on a sunny day.

When asked, two things everyone mentions are first, how great their neighbors are and then how walkable, bikeable and playable Saint Anthony Park is. Unlike Saint Anthony Village, Saint Anthony Park is a village. Its heart is Como Avenue around Doswell and Carter which isn’t so much a geographic heart as a community heart. This is where everyone in the community gathers. This is where they do their grocery shopping, have their morning cappuccino and catch up on what’s happening with their neighbors.

There’s a reason this is such a popular place to live.

Kiki’s Alley

At least a few people reading this had to wonder about that photo of an alley above.

Well, if there’s an interesting sign, there must be a story. In a bit of a twist on Jane Jacobs ‘eyes on the street’ we have ‘eyes on the alley’. Leave it to a couple of 4th graders to teach a neighborhood a bit about good Urbanism. The Park Bugle tells the story far better than I ever could and it is well worth reading.


If You Go

You’ll have to wait until June of 2017 for the next Saint Anthony Park garden tour. Depending on the gardens included you can likely walk to most or all of them; riding bicycles would also be a great option. Pre or post tour there’s Muffuletta, Finnish Bistro/Dunn Bros, Colossal Café, and Lori’s Coffee. There is also Urban Growler and Bang Brewing Company but they’re on the other side of the tracks, literally. An industrial walk down Raymond and across the tracks will get you there.

For other garden tours check out the Minnesota State Horticulture Society Events Calendar.

Walker Angell

About Walker Angell

Walker Angell is a writer who focuses mostly on social and cultural comparisons of the U.S. and Europe. He occasionally blogs at, a blog focused on everyday bicycling and local infrastructure for people who don’t have a chamois in their shorts. And on twitter @LocalMileMN