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The height of gardening, climbing plants thrive

Cucumbers grow on the bed boards of Corrine Bakken's home.1 / 3
Corrine Bakken stands next to a squash plant.2 / 3
A decorative wrought iron corner and fence with Phlox behind it sits on the Bakken property.3 / 3

I recently visited the garden of Corrine Bakken who has taken gardening to new heights and is reaping the benefits.

After retiring 23 years ago, Corrine and her husband moved to West Fargo to be near their family. Retirement didn't last long for Corrine, however, as for the past 20 years she has been working 40 hours a week as an aide on the West Fargo Public School buses. Even her 11 grandchildren and 22 great grand children are not enough to use up Corrine's energy.

An early riser, she had already watered all of her garden beds before I arrived at 8 a.m. The first thing I noticed was the 'hedge' of 14 huge tomato plants along the south side of her house. Corrine shares the tomatoes with family and with neighbors who share their apples with her. She freezes most of the rest, first skinning them and then placing them into plastic freezer bags. She cans a few using store bought tomato juice to fill up the jars before sealing them in a water bath.

Along the east side of the house, cucumber vines are climbing up a wrought iron headboard and footboard. She picked up the bed boards from a berm on cleanup week and painted them black.

Corrine's son has a large raspberry patch on his farm, but three years ago she decided to grow some in her own backyard. The first year rabbits ate them to the ground, however eight of the 10 plants managed to survive. Not to be defeated by rabbits, she picked up wrought iron fencing (again a cleanup week find) to enclose the garden. In addition she found tall ornamental pieces for the four corners. The only purchase she made was for the entrance arbor and rabbit fencing to line the inside of the fence. The day before I came, she filled an ice cream pail full of raspberries and still was able to pick some for me to taste.

Giant squash plants climb the four corners of her garden. Many squash had already formed on them and, once they mature, Corrine will cut them into chunks to freeze. In addition to the raspberries, there are beets and cucumbers inside the enclosure. She makes beet pickles, but just eats or shares the cucumbers. Despite the rabbit fencing, some of the rascals managed to get under a corner to feast on her beans, peas and cabbage.

After viewing the garden, we sat on her pretty deck to enjoy a cup of coffee and a brownie. The deck is shaded by a six-year-old Maple tree and provides a view of the backyard with its abundant blooming Phlox, Clematis and potted plants. It is obvious that Corrine enjoys being outside in her quiet friendly neighborhood.