Lyndale Park Gardens

Minneapolis GBF - Day 1 - Garden #3

Our third stop of the day at the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling was Lyndale Park Gardens, a 61 acre park which was founded over 100 years ago on the shores of Lake Harriet by Theodore Wirth, the superintendent of the Minneapolis Parks System at the time.

The gardens include a one acre rose garden, a peace garden and an annual-perennial garden, the latter being where I spent the limited amount of time we had.

The plants ranged from the familiar:

I think it's practically a necessity to include a
"bee on a flower" photo :)

to interesting plants that I had never seen before, such as this one with beautifully edged leaves:

To really appreciate it's gorgeousness, a close-up is in order:

This next one, which seems to be another variety of the plant above, is particularly striking:

As I'm only starting my journey when it comes to ornamentals, I often find that the plants/flowers I don’t know outnumber those that I do.  I'm hoping that one of my Master Gardener blogging friends can enlighten me on what these plants are as I would love to include them in my own garden.  Update:  My wonderful blogging friend Helen from Toronto Gardens came through with the likely ID for these plants:  the first one is a Euphorbia while the second appears to be an Alternanthera.  For more details, scroll down to Helen's comment where she provides a couple of links.

I recognized this guy as it already graces one of my borders, for example, but I had no idea what it was…now I know :)

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

A thicket in the middle of a grassy expanse was endlessly fascinating to passersby, both young and old.

Several of the borders were arranged according to colour which is quite helpful when you are looking for plants of a given colour to add to your own garden.  I was drawn to the blues:



Evolvulus glomeratus

Salvia...again ('cause it's so pretty)


I’m also on the lookout for interesting grasses – this one was particularly lovely, but I unfortunately forgot to find out the variety:

Thank you to another blogging friend - Jane at Close to Home -
for the possible ID on this beautiful grass:
Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum').

But just because you see a (seemingly) well behaved plant neatly occupying a corner of the bed in a public garden doesn't necessarily mean that it will do the same in your garden.  Gooseneck loosestrife really caught my eye but, apparently, it can become invasive under the right conditions:

Gooseneck Loosestrife - Lysmachia clethroides

We have been undergoing a massive cleanup of our borders this year and one of the biggest issues is eliminating plants and shrubs whose spread is difficult to control (many of which are garden centre staples).  The lesson here is that it pays to do a bit of research before introducing new plants or shrubs into your garden, regardless of how commonplace they may seem.

And then there are plants that require some extra effort when it comes to maintenance.

Canna lilies

Canna lilies are beautiful (although perhaps a bit too showy for my tastes), but the rhizomes have to be lifted, stored over the winter, and replanted every year.

I've never grown ornamental cabbages as I would rather grow those that will end up on my plate (taste before beauty and that sort of thing), but they do steal the show in a border, especially when planted as a grouping:

Now that I think of it, I find it rather strange that I've never seen holey ornamental cabbages, considering the prevalence of cabbage whites in most areas.  Are the plants in these public gardens perhaps sprayed with BT or are they simply not as appetizing to the butterflies as the tastier versions that we humans eat?

I really liked this twiggy structure and am thinking this would be a great DIY project:

Gotta get my zinnia fix – an annual that I’ve developed a newfound love for ever since they found their way into my own garden this past summer:

Cleome's are so beautiful and, according to one source, reseed themselves.  They are on the list of annuals that I'll be trying at some point:


One interesting thing I noticed was that ornamental sweet potato vines are quite popular nowadays, both in Minnesota and back home in Ontario – something I wouldn’t expect in a northern climate:

I’m wondering if that’s a new thing or if I simply didn’t realize that’s what they were until I started growing them.

Lyndale Park is known for its rose garden which contains over 3,000 roses (!) but we, unfortunately, were being called back to the bus just as I was walking towards it.  Oy!

That’s one thing that you quickly learn when you are touring the fling gardens – if you dawdle too long in one section of a garden, you will have to rush through or completely miss other sections.  Well, I thought I had learned that at the first fling in Toronto, but for some reason, it keeps happening.  I may have to resign myself to the fact that I’m a dawdler, when it comes to gardens anyhow, which means that sometimes I miss out.  But I thoroughly enjoy the parts that I do experience, which is really the point, now isn’t it?  :)

P.S.  Give me a bean, fava and pea plant and I will quickly identify which is which, but I'm still finding my way when it comes to ornamentals.  Not all of the plants in the gardens we visited were labeled, in which case, I've done my best to identify them when possible.  If I've misidentified any of the ornamentals in this post (or you know what any of the "mystery" plants are), please feel free to let me know in the comments :)


  1. I'm no expert with ornamentals either but I'm better than I used to be. The perennial garden must have been interesting to you now that you're planning some new perennial borders yourself, visits like these can give you so much inspiration.

    1. I am getting better at identification, bit by bit - it makes me feel rather proud when I can look at a plant and say "well, that's an XXX" ;)

      Every single garden I visit, be it at the fling or closer to home, is an inspiration in one way or another...there is also a good idea or two (or 20!) to bring back home.

  2. Hi, Margaret,
    We never seem to have as much time as we want in the Fling gardens (which says something good about the gardens) and there always seems to be a bit that other Flingers see that we miss. C'est la Fling!

    To help with your plant ID, the variegated one with the pinky-white trim is most likely a Euphorbia (possibly this one: and the red one I think is more likely an annual foliage plant Alternanthera (possibly this one: Hopefully, Blogger won't think I'm trying to spam you with these links!

    1. Your comment made it! Maybe Blogger is smarter than we think ;)

      Thank you SO much for those ID's Helen...If anyone could give me a clue as to their identity, I figured it would be you :)

      And that's so true about the limited timing - best to simply go with the flow and truly enjoy what we do see. It also helps that I know I can always experience the parts I missed on others' posts.

  3. I like your take on things. It's different and more interesting, more focused. I agree with Helen about the euphorbia. I would have thought it was too cold there for it. The purple grass looks like a dwarf form of Purple Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum', an annual for you, a perennial for me. I just dug mine out. It was about to take 1/4 of the backyard.

    1. Thank you for the ID Jane! I'm actually very happy that it's an annual as digging up and dividing perennial grasses can be such an undertaking. I have one clump that's needed dividing for a few years now but it's just such a daunting task that it keeps getting put off. It would be really nice to have a few grasses where I didn't have to worry about that...and being able to change up their location from year to year would be a nice benefit too.

  4. One of the disadvntgs of group visits is followng someone else's timetable.

    1. Very true - although getting to visit gardens that are usually not open to the public as well as having owners/curators around to answer questions more makes up for it :)

  5. I think I would have liked this garden a lot! You got some great pics too. I'm not really a rose person, so I would have spent my time with the annual/perennials like you did.

    1. Yes, you do have to pick and choose as sometimes there just isn't the time to see everything. I enjoy roses, but there is just so much diversity in a perennial garden that I would be hard pressed to pass that up.

  6. All of the Minneapolis gardens you've posted about have been very interesting. I love the little structures this one had, and I would love to see their color gardens. I like to garden by color in my perennial beds. Yes, gooseneck can be VERY invasive. My mother has some that was gifted to her, and she spends a significant amount of time every year digging it out so it doesn't cover her entire garden. She's in western Iowa, zone 5a, I believe.

    1. Well, I am borderline Canadian zone 5/6 which is similar to US zones 4/5 so I have a feeling that I would have similar issues with gooseneck. And I would most likely have given this plant a spot in the garden IF I hadn't read about it's invasive tendencies. Thank goodness for google :)

  7. I remember enjoying this garden. I think that plant in the second picture is a Euphorbia.

    1. It always makes me feel better when the experts are also undecided about a plants identity. It amazes me how you guys can rhyme off all those Latin names as if we were walking the streets of ancient Rome rather than North America :)

  8. This was a beautiful garden. I especially loved the big beehive structure in the middle. :o)

    1. It was lovely wasn't it - yet another spot that I would stop at to do some further exploring should I find myself in the Minneapolis area again.

  9. I remember the Cleomes and the Zinnias and the beehive structure. We really did not have much time at this huge property, and I want to go back! ;-)

    1. Your lucky to be close enough that it could be a day trip! And then, of course, you would have to post about it so that I could see what I missed :)


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