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Corner gardening twice the work of normal yards

Mary Hansen tends to a garden outside her West Fargo home.1 / 3
The east side of the Hansen yard has a tree with a funny face that greets people.2 / 3
Hansen combines plants so there is something in bloom throughout the gardening season.3 / 3

Anyone who owns a corner lot knows what a big job it is just to keep up with the lawn not to mention tending shrubs and gardens. There is one such lot in West Fargo that is just a showstopper. In fact, both pedestrians and motorists stop to admire and praise Ken and Mary Hansen's yard.

You may see Mary out every day dead heading flowers or mowing the lush green lawn. She has been working on her gardens for 35 years and usually adds something new every year.

Mary tries to combine plants in her beds and borders so that there is something in bloom throughout the gardening season. For instance, the front corner bed is blooming now with Liatris, Salvia, Balloon flower and Petunias. Earlier the Peony and Iris were the stars and later Zinnias, Marigolds and a tall 'Carl Foerster' grass will be features. She has a large 'movable' rock in the midst of these flowers.

The front of the house faces south and two lovely rose bushes anchor its border. Four O'clocks are volunteers and combine with lilies and phlox for height. Low growing Ice plant fills a space towards the front of the border along with brightly colored Gallardia and ornamental Kale. At the corner, a group of 'Tiger Lilies' hold court. A curved cement edging surrounds most of the beds and borders.

A tree on the east side of the house greets people with its funny face. It is surrounded with large rocks forming a bed for Begonias, Sedum and Liatris. The border along the house is filled with Peonies, Sedum and annuals, with a Lilac at the corner.

The Hansens have a tall cedar fence along the north edge of their property. There is a deep garden border along the fence giving a wow factor to their landscape. Two large Sea Lavenders were just coming into bloom. Zinnias, Cosmos, pink Coneflowers, white Shasta Daisies, yellow Globe Thistle and purple Echinops added large clumps of color in the garden. Bright yellow Calendula that had self-seeded shines here and there. Earlier, Columbine, Thalictrum, German Iris, Siberian Iris, and Bergenia had flowered while the Asters and tall Sedums are still to come. Petunias line the front of the border and every now and then, a Blue Flax waves in the breeze. One of Mary's new plants is Oxalis (Shamrock), which has very attractive leaves, and has been producing little pink flowers constantly.

Mary has a vegetable garden at the west end of this border. Although the tomato plants seem to be shaded somewhat by a large Ash tree, she reaps a great harvest. The secret, Mary says, is all the fish parts that have been buried there after fishing trips. In addition, she grows squash, onions, peppers, cabbage, beans, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and rhubarb. She has tied several plants to stakes in the garden. The sharp tops of the stakes are topped with white practice golf balls in order to protect any children in the area.

If that is not enough to take care of, Mary also tends a community garden at the church across the street. For the past three years, she has had one plot, but this year she has two and a half plots. Some of the gardens had been abandoned so she offered to clean them up and plant in them. She does not do any canning but gives it all away and has already had cucumbers to share.

When I asked Mary where she gets most of her plants, she said 'everywhere'. She and a group of friends have a fun day of 'nursery hopping' in Minnesota each spring. She states that she enjoys watching things grow and it is obvious that she gives them tender care. Her trick, she claims, is that 'she blesses the plants each day.'