Zinnias up close

Flower Power Walk

Now that the days are shorter and colder, summer’s blooms have given way to dried seed pods and stems. Gardeners across the state are making final preparations to rest their green thumbs this winter.

So, this is a perfect time to post a love letter to all of the people who make walks so enjoyable by lining our sidewalks with beautiful blooms. I truly appreciate the investment of time and money that goes into planting and caring for gardens of all sizes. Potted plants on front entry stoops, window boxes on balconies, and huge garden beds all have the power to transform a person’s mood.

On a gorgeous Saturday morning in August, I was reminded of the the importance of nature therapy. It had been a particularly stressful week and I was in need of some fresh air, movement, meditation, and creative expression.

The weather conditions were optimal for a photo walk. It was cooler than normal with a slight breeze and a bright blue, partly cloudy sky. Right from the start of my walk near Minnehaha Creek, blooms of all shapes, sizes, and colors caught my attention. I made frequent stops as I walked north on Bryant Avenue to Franklin. (Blooming Bryant Avenue should be an event).

I’ve recreated that morning walk with this photo diary. Please enjoy this digital nature therapy session. Turn on some of your favorite tunes and let your finger (or mouse) do the walking.

And if you’re a gardener, thank you! 

Purple blooms

Milk weed

Orange and red flowers

Berries on a plant

Caution tape and flower urns

Window box with greenery and decorative sculptures

Potted flowers in front of Urban Bean coffee shop

Square window with flower box

fake flowers

Flowers in front of Twist Hair Studio

Red door surrounded by flowers

Garden gnome surrounded by flowers

Rose bloom and buds

Janelle Nivens

About Janelle Nivens

Janelle is an urban explorer who likes to challenge herself to walk long distances (40 miles is her record). She lives in southwest Minneapolis with Scott and their adorable dog Stewie and works at the University of Minnesota. Janelle documents what catches her eye on long walks in hopes of inspiring others to discover hidden gems in their own communities. Walk with her on Instagram, Twitter (@Janellie23), and FitBit.

12 thoughts on “Flower Power Walk

  1. Melissa WenzelMelissa Wenzel

    This is lovely and I needed this! I miss flowers and other people’s beautiful gardens (just moved into our home this spring; working on our mostly native, pollinator-friendly garden too)

    I bike to work 3 days a week. I pass a few very lovely gardens each ride that make me smile, happy.

    One day about 6 weeks ago, I finally saw the homeowner of my favorite garden. I biked to her and told her that her garden makes me happy, that it’s beautiful and it helps me get through some tough days. I told her that the community notices when people bring beauty in the world.

    She was pretty stunned by my speech (I’d been rehearsing it for weeks in my head) and thanked me. “Bless you, this is so kind of you to say. It’s a LOT of work but I love gardening and having a beautiful yard.”

    I thanked her again and pedaled away. I’ve seen her once and waved-she waved enthusiastically back.

    Two strangers bonded over love and appreciation of gardens and beauty.

    1. Hannah PritchardHannah Pritchard

      Whenever I canvass for get out the vote, I find myself complimenting people on their gardens/yards. They always seem very receptive, and many want to tell me more about it.

    2. Janelle NivensJanelle

      I go out of my way to thank people who contribute to a better walking experience too! I have left notes and have received email replies letting me know it was appreciated. I also ran across the street to talk to the person who somehow keeps a cactus garden alive in Minnesota. I love your story – thank you for sharing it!

  2. Hannah PritchardHannah Pritchard

    Oh man, I’m going to file this one away to look at again in February. I’ve had two summers in my house to work on a garden and we have a long way to go! My neighborhood association does a blooming boulevard program every spring in which they till up a patch of boulevard at your house and give you some annuals to put in it. It makes a HUGE difference to get some vegetation in there!

  3. Michael

    Great photos, thanks!

    A dumb question–does the cactus garden have to be dug up and taken indoors every fall or can it survive the winter here?? Sorry, I know nothing!lol

    1. Daughter Number Three

      The flat pads in the foreground look like prickly pear, which could easily be hardy in Minnesota (depends a bit on the species, it probably is a hardy one). The tall vertical cacti in the background of the photo would not be hardy and obviously have been lovingly overwintered indoors for a number of years.

    1. Michael

      Thanks! I just have never seen cacti planted like that in MN and it looked cool, but then I figured they must go through a lot of work to make it a reality!

      1. Janelle NivensJanelle

        I went out of my way to talk to the gardener when I saw them outside recently. If I remember correctly, most of the cacti are hardy enough for our winters. They were installing chicken wire around the plants the day I saw them and that was to protect animals from the thorns!

        I’ll try to get more information from the gardener as I plan on writing more gardener related content for streets.mn (resources and tips for becoming a person who adds beauty to our streets).

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