AT HOME: Grand Forks couple has the space to enjoy gardening
From hostas, to heliopsis, daisies to dianthus and lilacs to lilies, perennials proliferate on Linda and Mark Engelstad's patio. In three years the couple has transformed the space from a sparse spot with only a handful of bushes to a vibrant, lu...
From hostas, to heliopsis, daisies to dianthus and lilacs to lilies, perennials proliferate on Linda and Mark Engelstad's patio.
In three years the couple has transformed the space from a sparse spot with only a handful of bushes to a vibrant, lush living area. Sixty different flower and plant species are planted along the edges of the 15-by-30 foot living area.
A fence together with three arborvitae the couple planted encloses the patio, separating it from the street and deadening the noise of passing cars.
The Engelstads, longtime gardeners, began the patio garden makeover by digging up the mulch that surrounded the patio, working up the soil and hauling in peat. Then they packed their favorite plants, including day lilies, Queen of the Prairie flowers and hostas into the soil. All 14 varieties of hostas have flourished and some measure more than 4 feet across.
"The thing that fascinated me at first about the hostas was, they're so tropical looking. Would you believe anything like that would grow in North Dakota." Meanwhile, the hostas are low maintenance.
"There's very little care to the hostas," Linda said. "I don't think we've ever lost one." Besides the hostas, grasses are another favorite plant of the Engelstads.
"We love the grasses. That Carl Forester is one of our favorites," Linda said, motioning toward clumps of tall, gray-grass bending gracefully over the blooming flowers, creating a waterfall effect.
In between the grasses and hostas, vivid orange, yellow and coral-colored lilies, purple coneflowers and pink Queen of the Prairie flowers add color to the Engelstad's patio area. Nestled among them is iron garden art in the shape of dragonflies and butterflies, a fountain and garden gnome.
The plants flowers, and grasses around the are a mixture of ones that grew in gardens the Engelstads had when they lived in Grand Forks homes, new ones they purchased and ones that were in their mothers' gardens.
"Mark's mother was an avid gardener," Linda said. "She really mentored us." The Engelstads didn't really have a grand plan in mind before she and Mark planted the plants, flowers and grasses in the patio garden.
One of the mistakes novice gardeners make, she said, is making gardening seem too daunting. It doesn't have to be that way if you plant easy-care plants.
"If you plant something that doesn't require a lot of care you can kind of let them go on their own. Try to pick things that you don't have to work with all of the time....
"You just put them in and see what they're going to do and adjust from there."
The Engelstads, who have had huge flower beds in Grand Forks homes they lived in the past, are enjoying gardening in the small space.
"We think it's very manageable to have a small place," Linda said. "One thing about planting so tightly is there's very little weeding. Before I could spend all day out there."
Although she and Mark thoroughly enjoyed their large gardens that have been featured in past Grand Forks Horticulture Society tours, they also like having more leisure time. Spending less time on weeding means she and Mark have more time to enjoy the patio.
Two wrought iron tables and sets of chairs provide a place to read and visit during the day. In the evening, a fire pit and lantern give light and warmth to the area.
"It's more intimate. You can put all of your plants out here and have them up close, " Linda said as she surveyed the cozy sanctuary.
Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to email@example.com .