On the Northeast shore of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Lyndale Park Gardens is an absolute gem. The entire experience of the visitor is well orchestrated and pulls you through to appreciate each garden in concert. Read on to learn more about this beautiful space and planting tips for your own home.
History of Lyndale Park Gardens (as written by the Minneapolis Parks)
The transformation of Lyndale Park awaited the arrival of Theodore Wirth as park superintendent in 1906. At the end of his first year in Minneapolis, Wirth submitted in the 1906 annual report extensive recommendations for the improvement of Lake Harriet and Lyndale Park. Wirth had two ideas. First, the area from the pavilion east would be filled with material dredged from the lake to create playing fields surrounded by groves of trees. Second, the eastern and southern sections of the park would be devoted to “educational purposes on plant life.”
His first suggestion for Lyndale Park was never followed; his second was—with spectacular results. Wirth proposed two types of gardens for the area. First, a rose garden, which would, in addition to providing “beauty and pleasure,” provide “an instructive lesson on what roses to grow and how.” Above the rose garden, he proposed “a garden of trees, shrubs, and wild and cultivated flowers of every description.” The garden would be planted so that in every season something would be blooming and each plant would be properly labeled. Wirth wrote that “the educational service of the grounds towards home beautifying is inestimable.”
Lyndale Park Gardens contains four themed gardens: Annual-Perennial Garden, Butterfly and Hummingbird & Perennial and Border Gardens, Peace Garden and Rose Garden. While the others were lovely, the Perennial and Border Gardens were easily my favorite. The Lyndale Park Gardens’ thicket in the center anchors the gardens and provides structure to the space.
Instantly recognized, each of the beds surrounding the garden thicket is a monochromatic planting scheme. Separated by colors, each beds showcases a variety of plants in similar hues.
And it is a wildly successful way of planting! This “yellow bed” contains more than a dozen different varieties of plants. Included are soft yellow petunias, marigolds, cannas, rudbeckia, lantana, and I believe even yellow osteospermum.
This “red bed” is just starting to take shape and I am sure that several weeks later it is even more stunning. Red coleus, red petunias, red bacopa, salvia, red gaillardia, and red nicotiana fill the bed. Climbing the twig trellis, Cardinal Climber, Ipomoea x multifida, weaves the lacy foliage with small red, trumpet shaped flowers.
The warm shades of the “Orange bed” are complimented by the deep purple pennisetum planted on the corners. Here, orange nasturtiums are beginning to climb the teepee while marigolds, zinnias and even butterfly weed feel the lower portion.
This “Blue Bed” is a stark contrast to the warm oranges seen above. The cool shades of blue and light purple fill this bed with a very sophisticated look. Bright blue butterfly delphiniums, ageratum, petunias, silver lambs ear and blue salvia create a stunning combination. The vertical accents are planted with morning glory to reinforce the cool color palette.
Lyndale Park Gardens best bed may be this smoking hot “Pink Bed.” With the blue skies surrounding us, this monochromatic planting of pink plants shocked the eyes with bright colors. Pink petunias stood center stage, complimenting the pink cannas and gorgeous pink cleome that stood tall. Other pennisetum, inluding the pink ‘Fireworks’ cultivar, filled in the spaces between. Pink zinnias, pink verbena and guara on the far end help add more diversity to this really great combination.
Another view of this beautiful pink flower bed!
Planning to visit Minneapolis soon? Stop by Lyndale Park Gardens to enjoy a beautiful series of gardens in a peaceful setting. Free to the public, this is off the beaten path but surely well worth the effort to enjoy.