Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 2, 2003

'Nature' is theme for new garden center, Cattail Corner

By Lynda Jensen

Nature and design come together at a new landscape and garden center, Cattail Corner along Highway 12 in Howard Lake.

The business is owned by Merle and Stephanie Friesen.

Lakeshore restoration and native plantings are a highlight of the business, along with traditional landscaping services such as retaining walls, organized plantings, and color coordination.

Rustic garden accents, bright bedding flowers, and shrubs fill the grounds and nursery, as well as natural alternative dog, cat, and special mixes of bird food being offered.

Cattail Corner offers phosphorus-free fertilizer as well, with lake association members receiving a 10 percent discount.

The Friesens are both well versed with sophisticated garden ideas, and able to take patrons from start to finish on project ideas.

Merle noted that lakeshore property has a considerable amount of regulations required by the Department of Natural Resources, which he has worked with for many years.

Merle worked for about 20 years at Otten Brothers in Long Lake as a landscape designer. Some of his past experience includes shore homes along Lake Minnetonka, plantings at the Guthrie Theatre, and many other projects.

In town, the Friesens are doing landscaping for the new bank building, several local homes, and other projects.

In one Deep Haven home, he helped design and plant an edible hill planted with several kinds of berries. There was also a "daylily" hill at the home, complete with beautiful granite steps, he said.

In fact, Merle thinks of gardens as an outdoor living room ­ a place where people can spend time enjoying nature, he said. "We have gone so far as to pick house colors that match indoors," he said.

Coral bells, and purple prairie clover are two favorites, although there are many other kinds of traditional traditional plantings, he said.

Before working for Otten Brothers, Merle owned his own business in Mountain Lake for a few years, he said.

He has a landscape and garden center management degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a certified nurseryman from the Minnesota Landscape and Nursery Association.

Merle generally does the landscape and tree or bush plantings, while Stephanie does the design work.

Stephanie has a degree in wildlife biology and a minor in environmental sciences from St. Cloud State University. She worked for three seasons at the Sherburn Wildlife refuge in native prairie, savannah, woodland plants in monitoring and identification. She has worked extensively with native prairie plantings and wetland restorations.

The business is open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Mondays. They hope to be open year-round.

The phone number is (320) 543-3511.

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