Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ambergate Gardens, Mom's Landscape, and Snake Dog

My wife and I spent a long four day weekend with my parents in Minnesota, well, six days if you count driving.

On Thursday mom and I went to our favorite nursery, Ambergate Gardens. On Friday, I was treated to Tonkadale Greenhouse, too, where they had the MOTHER OF ALL PLANT SALES: buy one, get one for one cent. Yes. One tiny little penny. Annuals (which they have tons of), perennials, even shrubs. Mom and I both got a dwarf cutleaf white birch 'Trost's Dwarf' and a stunningly yellow 'Golden Spirit' smoke bush. My plants totaled seven cents with tax. Mom's were a bit more.

Saturday saw a slew of family volleyball games in the pool (I picked the wrong team to be on), and on Sunday we hit two art festivals in downtown Minneapolis: Loring Park (gorgeous area by the Walker and its famed scultpure garden) and Powder Horn Park. Too bad I don't have pics. Next year, we're going to the massive Uptown Art Fair and hope for better finds... oh, I found stuff I liked, but I don't have 500-1,000 bucks to toss around.

Let's turn our attention, then, to Ambergate so we can have some pics, then some images of mom's young (but a few years older than mine) garden / landscape. Ready? Ok. Go get some popcorn and urinate. You installed that hybiscus urinal I posted about many moons ago, right? Use that one.

Ambergate is run by Mike and Jean Heger, a lovely couple, always fun to talk to--but no pics, I didn't feel like asking them, what, seeing as they were covered in sweat and grime, you know. I am a considerate fellow. The nursery is strange: located inbetween housing developments of large homes in a well to do suburb, yet the dirt driveway snakes through a field of weeds and a thick tree / brush line--it's out of place and nondescript.

Once you survive the one foot deep ruts, you make it to a clearing, a roundabout of plants with piles of mulch and bags of soil ammendments.

Ambergate has found a nifty way to store boxes while not polluting the enviornment with CO2 emissions (below):

Don't come here with a bad back, set of weak knees, or a schedule: not one plant is on a table, and I suppose there is order to the chaos, because when you ask for a lovely native perennial (their speciality), they know right where to go.

Where's the checkout? See that yellow and white striped tent? There's a fan and radio over there, too, along with a gentle, old, big dog.

Mom and I have been here three times now, at least. Once, I remember seeing some solitary woman walking around with a few plants. I think they cater more to landscapers and such, which, I suppose, is my smug way of saying this place is awesome: it's quiet, it's odd, it's hot and messy, it's earthy and real, owners are terrific... it's perfect.

I picked up a rudbeckia maxima, inspired by the wet clay gardens of View From Federal Twist. A variegated filipendula (Filipendula ulmaria 'Variegata', a white bloomer). And some other things I forget but are lovely. Too hot to go outside and look. You can order from Ambergate via mail and their lovely catalog.

Now, pics of mom's landscape, ending with snake dog (his tongue goes in and out constantly; lizard dog might work too, I suppose).

They've recently eeded a prairie on a few acres, and here, the rudbeckia are doing well, while everything else sleeps (though I did see a few echinacea here and there).

I didn't know gold leaf tansy got this big, like 3' by 3' at least. Or that it bloomed. I'm in trouble (below):


Somebody needs to trim their dappled willow.


Snake dog


garden girl said...

Looks like you had a very nice trip Benjamin. I like the prairie look of your mom's garden, love that Japanese dappled willow! I have two babies in shrub form, and I'll be happy when they're large enough to need trimming.

Ambergate Gardens looks like my kind of nursery! It reminds me a bit of the nursery where I work - definitely rustic, and great place to find natives and a large selection of cultivated, hard-to-find in our area perennials.

Our buy one, get one free sale is always a hit, and even with my employee discount I still wait for the sale, (hoping what I want won't be sold out by then,) for the bulk of my perennial and shrub shopping.

Les said...

Did they have any guilt free teak furniture, $800 grills, imported statuary, pre-patinated pots, or was it a place to buy plants but not lifestyles.

jeery said...

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Frances, said...

Hi Benjamin, that was a fun trip to Ambergate, thanks. Your mom must be a great gardener and all around great person, to (a) have raised you so well, and (b) to have sown a prairie so successfully. The only downside I can see is the naming of the adorable but unfortunate dog. ;->

Benjamin Vogt said...

GG--Wow, other nurseries have that sale? It's incredible. My local places don't do these, just 20-50% off sales this time of year. I think I'll organize a garden bloggers fieldtrip to Ambergate.
Les--Just a place to buy plants, thank goodness! Why do nurseries have to also sell lifestyles, even if that portion is only a few hundred sqaure feet? I've got a local nursery that seels benches for almost $1,000. What!?
Frances--Raised me ok, I suppose, but they hired someone to plant and get the prairie started. I think next year is when it should realyl get going, then all my folks have to do is mow once or twice a year. I think. And that dog is nuts.

Unknown said...

Nuts or not, I think that the snake dog is cute. :)

Neat pictures of the prairie, and of Ambergate--sounds like a way cool place. To answer you and Les, though, lots of nurseries are focusing on the "lifestyle" aspect of gardening because that's how they might be able to survive now that gardening/working out in the yard is going "out" of style. They'd have to sell a whole lot of $2 pots of the random herbs that I like to buy to make up for missing out on a $1000 bench sale... I hate that, as a gardener, but I understand why it apparently has to be.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Kim--Yes, you're absolutely right about nurseries needed to supplement their income. The couple at Ambergate told me business is down significantly this year, and all they sell is plants. How do they do it? I just always feel that places sell out when they sell lifestyles, even though, again, I sympathize with why they do it. An old issue.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I know. I admit, I get a little cranky that the place where I work part time lets us "plant people" go after the spring season ends, while there are many "design people" who get to stay on year-round. Grr. :)