The Studio Garden of Donna Hamilton

Minneapolis GBF - Day 1 - Garden #2

Donna Hamilton transformed a grocery store in the middle of Minneapolis into her studio and, right alongside the bricks and mortar, she created a garden that is overflowing with colour & keeps pollinators very happy.

Donna made the most of every planting opportunity, including the “hellstrip”
...the narrow strip of land between the sidewalk and the street

Although she and her husband closed down their holiday d├ęcor company, Hearts & Ivy, in 2015, they did not give up the studio nor the garden, both of which are obvious sources of joy and satisfaction.

The best descriptor for this garden is abundant.

I'm all about the zinnias ever since some found their way into my garden this year:

I also adore plants that have interesting buds, such as these balloon flowers (thanks Helen for the ID!):

Balloon flower (Platycodon) bud

Balloon flower bloom

Lantana is another favourite for both their interesting, pillow-like buds and beautiful blooms:

I'm a sucker for pots, especially when they are grouped together and overflowing with colour:

I see some parsley and basil tucked in here too

But why limit pots to decks and patios - they look wonderful all planted up and placed in the beds themselves:

I mentioned in my post on the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden that Blue Wild Indigo kept popping up in the gardens - here it is surrounding a decoratively topped obelisk:

From a distance, the bird almost appears to be flying amongst the indigo

Another Fling favourite, bee balm, but not in the often seen red...look at all the glorious colours:

I'm going to find a spot for these in my garden...

At practically every garden, there is at least one plant that I need to track down the owner and inquire about.  In Donna's garden, it was a "mystery" yellow flower with it's eye-catching serrated petals.  Not a mystery for seasoned ornamental gardeners, I'm sure, but I had no idea what it was:


I particularly liked how the beds were delineated by using both rocks and a different colour of mulch.

Rocks outline the beds

I have a TON of rocks from digging in our rocky soil, so I think I’ll be borrowing this idea for my own garden.

A birdbath is one other feature that I’m hoping to get into the garden next year:

Look at all those glorious coleus at the base of the birdbath

I've never been particularly interested in coleus, but several gardens in Minneapolis have me rethinking (that seemed to happen to me a lot during this trip!)

I truly loved this garden - it was informal, yet organized - something I aspire to in my own garden.

Our next stop:  Lyndale Park Gardens


  1. Another lovely garden. It's great that you get to see such a mix of different gardens on the fling. I'm a big fan of containers in gardens, they're great for plugging gaps in borders and look good grouped together as shown in your post. They're a good solution too if a particular plant prefers different conditions to those you've got in your garden.

    1. It's truly incredible how many different types of gardens and gardening styles there are. Of course, I like some more than others but I usually find at least one or two take-aways, even if the garden is not my "style".

      I LOVE pots - just haven't been that great at taking care of them. But when I did the drip on the beds, I included a few extra lines specifically for potted plants so we shall see how that goes next year.

  2. Oh yes, this was a wonderful garden! You captured some great photos! I liked the rocks marking the pathway, too, and out in front by her sign. Your scenes in photo 1 and photo 2 are stunning!

    1. Thanks Beth - you are just too kind! I'm not sure what Donna's garden area was like when she purchased the property, but I'm thinking if her studio was a grocery store, it couldn't have been good - what satisfaction she must get from it, especially knowing the transformation that it's undergone.

      I'm always on the lookout for uses for the big pile of rocks that I have behind one of my sheds - this is one idea I will definitely be incorporating into my garden.

  3. Hi Margaret, I love to see flowers or veggies planted in strips like that! What a great idea! I love flowers in pots or otherwise! Nancy

    1. I'm all about the pots, Nancy - not so much about watering them, though, so I see many more drip lines in my future :)

  4. The birds will love you if you provide them with a bird bath, we have three in our garden and they are always well visited.
    I have grown coleus for the first time in years this year and have used them in pots in the garden. I think they will be a regular addition from now on

    1. I've always been hesitant about birdbaths because of the mosquito issue and wasn't sure that I would be able to change the water often enough. But I've since heard that changing once per week is sufficient, which is quite doable, even when I'm busy. So next year for sure!

      The coleus was near the top of the list when it came to surprises. Before the fling, I thought of them as somewhat old fashioned and uninteresting...boy was I wrong!

    2. Our birds empty the bath almost daily. When they are splashing about it soon empties. We tend to refill it each morning.

  5. Coleus reminds me of my childhood in Malaya. My Mum was very keen on Coleus, and had lots of pots of it dotted around the house and garden. It certainly proves the point that you don't need flowers to provide colour in a garden.

    1. I have similar memories in that my mom also had pots of it in the house, but they were all the standard variety. I was amazed by the variability in colours and leaf shapes, which is what sold me. I'm not sure how difficult they are to grow from seed but I intend to give it a go - can't wait to check out the catalogue offerings in the spring!

  6. Thanks for refreshing my memories of this delightful garden.

    1. Your welcome, Jason - the fling is often such a blur, it's really nice to be able to sit back and "enjoy" each garden at leisure through all the photos.

  7. This was such a sweet garden! Great pics! :o)

    1. Thanks Tammy! It was one of those gardens that felt casual, yet it was apparent that a lot of thought went into how it was put together and all the little details.

  8. Replies
    1. It was wonderful - one of those I'd love to visit again.


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