Best Cottage Garden. Credit:

Metro Blooms Recognizes Gardeners Who Beautify, Inspire and Conserve

For more than 30 years, Metro Blooms has been promoting and celebrating urban gardening and environmentally sound landscaping practices in a number of ways. The Minneapolis nonprofit recently held its annual award event to recognize those who beautify communities and garden with sustainability in mind. Award-winning gardens hailed from all around the city and were chosen by a team of over 100 garden evaluators who typically visit more than 1,000 nominated gardens every season.

In Southwest, Claude Worrell and Kim Faith took home the award for Best Edible Garden. Passersby likely first notice this sizable garden’s wrought-iron pergola covered with hops and honeysuckle. But there is so much more, including a strawberry patch, several varieties of raspberries, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes and much, much more.

Michelle and Bill Pohlad won Best Residential Garden for the terraced slope in front of their home on Lake of the Isles. Created by Minneapolis’ Phillips Gardens, the landscape includes a mix of annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. A cistern was installed to capture rainwater.

South Minneapolis gardeners swept several categories this year. Sandra Mangel took home the Best Cottage Garden award for the stunning gardens she has created all around her home over the last 42 years. Inspired by garden tours here and in Europe, Mangel’s gardens include more than 100 varieties of perennials, many of which she cuts for bouquets in the summer. To keep her garden soil healthy, she adds plenty of organic matter, such as compost, in the spring.

John Humleker and Cordelia Anderson won Best Fairy Garden for their miniature, whimsical gardens containing gnomes, mermaids, cherubs and tiny woodland creatures. Their water conservation efforts include a roof drainage system that feeds a waterfall. Carol Warner won Best Alley Garden. Where there were once unsightly railroad ties, the artist and sculptor created stone terraces complete with plants, ponds and a waterfall.

Best Permaculture Garden went to Tiny Diner. Owned by eco-minded restaurateur Kim Bartmann, Tiny Diner serves up farm-to-table food and the gardens offer lessons in biointensive urban farming techniques, including efficient water usage. The outdoor patio is shaded by a solar array, and rain barrels and rain gardens are used to capture runoff from the restaurant’s roof. Though small, the edible garden includes an array of vegetables and there’s also a mini orchard of fruit trees.

Northeast Minneapolis gardeners Todd Larson and Macy Ashby were the big winners of the night, taking home Best Community Investment Award and Metro Blooms’ highest honor, the Nate Siegel Award, which recognizes gardeners who are making a difference in helping to create healthy, beautiful landscapes and inspiring others to do the same. Since moving into their home in the Holland neighborhood in 2008, they have transformed their neglected landscape by planting natives and perennials and installing a rain garden, among many other things.  

Soon, they were spreading the word about rain gardens, knocking on doors and hosting gatherings in their yard. The result: twenty-seven rain gardens have so far been installed in their neighborhood with help from students from the University of Minnesota’s School of Design and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota. 

Check out Meleah’s blog: for more gardening tips or to email her a question or comment. 


For a full list of winners, as well as photos of the winning gardens, go to While at the website, take a moment to nominate a garden for a 2015 Minneapolis Garden Award. Nominations will be accepted until July 8, 2015.

Also in 2015, Metro Blooms with be merging with Blue Thumb, a program that encourages homeowners to plant for clean water by using more native plants, installing rain gardens and stabilizing shorelines to reduce runoff. “Both of our organizations are likeminded in focus, and we are both passionate about education for clean water, so it just makes sense to combine our efforts to be a stronger organization that can have a farther reach,” said Barbara Speltz, Metro Blooms community engagement and development director.