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An interesting West Fargo garden bountiful with color, variety

On one of my evening walks I met an interesting gardener with a unique garden. Dawn Trapp and her husband, Tim, have lived in West Fargo for 23 years and have been in their present home for 17 years.

Dawn began gardening at an early age. She was inspired by her mother, who grew vegetables and flowers and encouraged Dawn to garden with her. They always planted the potatoes on Good Friday. When she was first married, her mother-in-law gave her some tulip bulbs. Dawn couldn't wait until fall to plant them and consequently they came up in December!

Most of Dawn's gardening is done in the evenings, as she has a daycare in her home. She is such an avid gardener that she does not quit just because it gets dark and carries a solar light to light up the planting areas. Last fall, she planted crocus right into the lawn in her back yard and had to use the solar lights to finish the job. The crocus bloomed beautifully this spring while the grass was still dormant. Now that the grass has filled in, it is impossible to see where the crocus were.

Walking up to their home you cannot miss the feature that sold them on the house. It is a sculpted arborvitae that she calls their poodle tree. As we walked around to the back I noticed the unusual boundary edging. It is made up of vertical railroad ties in staggered heights and makes a great background for a selection of large hostas. Across from it against the house wall she grows pink and purple hollyhocks which get very tall.

Dawns pride and joy, the pond, is in the backyard nestled into a corner formed by the house and the raised deck. She has had the pond for 16 years and even had to move it when they added on to the house, setting it in place before the addition was completed. It is a preformed pond about 2 ½ feet deep with planting shelves on the sides. A tiered garden created with railroad ties surrounds the pond.

Many lovely plants, including daylily, Siberian iris, perennial geranium, dianthus, William Baffin rose, sedums and lilies were in bloom when I visited. Sedges, both in and out of the pond, and tall German iris provided spiky accents. Round stepping stones take you from one side to the other and chairs were placed on the lower deck so you could sit and enjoy the goldfish swimming about.

After October, the pond is cleaned and refilled and the goldfish go in a garbage can in the garage. Dawn uses a round shop light to keep the top from freezing. The fish go into a dormant state and are not fed until they go out again in April.

Dawn and Tim's home backs up to Elmwood Park which is an attractive feature. However, in order to have some privacy they planted several trees that are now mature. Dawn's grandfather gave her two silver maple seedlings to anchor the back corners. They came from a tree that he planted the day that she was born and she plans to pass a seedling on to her daughter and son-in-law. A red maple was a mother's day gift, while a clump birch and a purple leafed crabapple were anniversary gifts.

There is a lovely gazebo on one side of the yard that was given to them by a close friend. The daycare children like to play in it and Dawn enjoys coffee there when the deck is too sunny. Beds of spireas and other plants surround it and there is a vegetable garden behind it.

Dawn has edged the vegetable garden with zinnias and pink and purple mallows the way her grandmother used to do. I can imagine how the peppers, tomatoes, peas, zucchini, squash, cucumbers and pumpkins will soon fill up the space and more.

At center back there is an arbor with clematis growing up it and a walkway of large stones running through it. On each side there are shrubs and potted plants in a bark mulch tying it all together. The right hand corner features a large play area with a swing-set and a sand base. All of the beds and the play area are edged with railroad ties that are at ground level so that the mower can ride right over them.

Dawn uses touches of whimsy that usually involve some memory. In the front yard a rusted wheelbarrow, filled with pink and purple petunias, once belonged to a friend who died of brain cancer. A white wagon with pots of annuals carried the little ring bearer at her daughters wedding. A birdbath developed a crack, so she filled it with hen and chicks to set by the deck. She topped off the base with her grandfather's old bowling ball that she painted bright blue.

Each spring, Dawn and her mother trade buckets of plants. Tim thinks that they are just passing the same things back and forth! The large variety of plants in this garden seems to indicate otherwise.

Breitling is a longtime West Fargo resident and avid gardener always in search of new ideas.