It's easy to drive right past Arneson Acres; I did for many years. From the street in the heart of Edina, Minnesota, the Arneson home fits right in with the neighborhood, but it's what's in back that makes the property atypical. These 13 acres of prime real estate, once a tree farm, now are home to 28 showcase gardens serving as a backdrop for weddings, special events, education, or for those like me, who just want to relax, wander and take it all in.
A hedge of Miss Kim lilacs in the parking lot hides the magic behind it. A winding path welcomed me and led to the surprising discovery of the formal garden. Mature trees and tall walls of arborvitae surround this lengthy, grass-covered space, which conveys a peaceful, faraway sentiment. I wasn't in a bustling city anymore.
Planted like a symphony for the seasons, four 120-foot perennial beds flank the grand formal garden area. There isn't a time when something isn't blooming.
I loved the contrasting color of this combination of Veronica spicata 'Sunny Border Blue' and Coreopsis grandiflora 'Pot of Gold'. Together they compose the perfect example of design basics: planting a vertical, spiky flower next to an open, daisylike flower. Both are rugged, easy to grow and have long-lasting blooms.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea 'Foxy Mix') is a common thread woven through the late-spring-blooming perennial beds. What's not to love! The flowers are numerous, on spikes, and come in a wide range of colors. (These gardens contained only the creamy-yellow variety, all with conspicuous iconic spots lining the throat of the tubular flower.) Foxglove is a biennial, setting leaves the first year followed by flower spikes the next year. Ah, patience is a virtue!
From the formal garden area peaceful nooks await those ready to explore. This arborvitae arch was my ticket into the green room of serenity.
It's what isn't so obvious--like this quiet room--that makes this public garden a gem. In early spring azaleas, blooming crabapple trees and magnolias light it up with riotous color. Stepping behind the living walls into the shady edges of the gardens, I found the hosta glades and woodland gardens, which are home to native trillium, ferns, trout lily, wild lily-of-the-valley and many others.
Summer sizzles with nearly a thousand clumps of daylilies in bloom, apple trees loaded with sweetness, followed by a fiery display of autumn color. For me it's a definite invite to come back. I can't wait.
Arneson Acres is open year-round and is free to the public. You'll find it at 4711 West 70th Street Edina, MN 55435.
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