Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, April 2, 2001

She grows garden of roses, he grows a garden of steel

By Lynda Jensen

Red is her favorite color.

It would be much harder to tell what Deb Niesen's favorite plant would be, judging from her garden in Howard Lake.

The garden is festooned with flowering shrubs such as yellow pontentillas, purple rhododendrons, fragrant junipers and a swell of other beautiful flowers, and one delicate tree rose.

Tree roses are rare in Minnesota, since they are finicky plants, but Niesen manages to keep her tree roses thriving, she said.

Tree roses must be entombed over the winter this far north, with the Minnesota gardener actually taking the plant, loosening the soil under it and tipping it over to cover it with earth during the winter months.

Niesen is pining for the spring along with every other gardener after such a long winter, but she welcomes the change in seasons because it allows her and her plants some rest, she said.

Niesen frames her garden with the stone and steel workings of her husband, Gary (see related story), being lucky enough to have a husband who is skilled and patient for that sort of thing, she said.

She designs things for him to build, including the idea to wind paver stone around the corner of their property.

That project started out small and ended up huge, with 2,000 stones - 15 tons of block - around the length of their property.

Gary had to re-dig the project three times. "I change my mind a lot," she said.

Her garden is only four years old, although she credits the good black dirt available to her on their property.

She strongly recommends wood chip mulch, since this saves her a lot of weeding time, she said.

This helps cut down her weeding time, which is useful since she also holds down a full time job at LSI Corp. out of Plymouth.

Plants need air circulation and pruning is a crucial part of her gardening routine, she said.

Now, her garden is starting to wake up with crocuses, hyacinths, and other spring-blooming bulbs. Soon her red tulips will bloom against a backdrop of deep evergreens.

She plans to arrange an eight foot high, nine foot wide arbor between her garage and the wooden fence that runs along their driveway. The arbor will carry honeysuckle and another rare specimen to Minnesota: purple wysteria.

Wysteria looks like a plant weeping with purple flowers that dangle as it climbs across the arbor.

An unusual aspect about Niesen's garden is her clever use of space, lifting up baskets of impatiens on shepherd's hooks, trailing flowers around movable arbors, and using other ironworks to frame her flowers like living paintings.

The real show is during the summer, when her garden is a riot of color with red climbing roses, purple coneflowers, white daisies, red hanging geraniums, clematis, purple asters, and beebalm.

She also has Adam's Needle, which is a southwestern plant, matching her house decor, and the long stemmed yucca plant.

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