October Blooms

Filed in Uncategorized by on October 1, 2014

Flowers-960x400Beautiful autumn flower-gardens are rare. Come September, we look to the yellows, reds, and oranges of turning leaves to bring the landscape to life.


The Zimmerman gardens located at their home just north of Detroit Lakes are an exception. The family has created a breathtakingly beautiful late-season landscape.


“Creative design” is the first thought that comes to mind as you make your way through the gate and into the back yard. Laid out before you is what appears to be a labyrinth of paths and plants, riots of color paired with calming greens, intriguing garden ornaments, and small pockets of special interest all artfully arranged within the confines of paving-stone edgers. The expansive, meandering central bed set against a background of deciduous forest is striking.


Kim Zimmerman is quick to credit her son, Tyler, with the design. “He has an eye for layout,” she says. “I just plant where I’m told… but in all honesty it takes both of us equally to create and maintain our gardens.” Given the profusion of zinnias, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, grasses, vines, flowering shrubs, moss roses, coleus, hen-and-chicks, cockscomb, Asian lilies, and other plants that fill the bed, tending the garden is ongoing and no small thing. Kim keeps the weeds in check and plants looking their best all season long.




But the star of the Zimmerman’s late-season landscape is the dahlia. Between the labyrinth bed and the deciduous forest is a bed several feet deep containing more than a hundred dahlias. Come late August-early September, these majestic plants sport blossoms with petals of all shapes, sizes, and colors, stand as tall as six feet, and steal the autumn show.


These showy dahlias do come with a price, however, as most gardeners know. The dahlia tuber is not cold hardy and must be dug and stored over winter. Before the ground freezes, Kim and Tyler dig the tubers, wash them, and place them on drying racks. Once dry, they tag them, and wrap them in plastic for storage in a dedicated “dahlia fridge.” Come spring, tubers are brought out of storage, individually placed in zip top bags filled with soil, and kept in the laundry room to sprout. Once the ground warms, the dahlias are planted outside to grow tall and once again become the star of the autumn garden. The fall display is not the only reason for growing dahlias, however. Tyler says, “The most exciting part of dahlias is collecting and planting your own seeds in hopes of growing a new variety.”


Hostas may not be as showy as dahlias, but they add a feeling of tranquility to an area of the garden carved out of woodlands. The hosta bed is relatively new; Kim has planted sparsely at the base of tall deciduous trees, knowing hostas will fill in rather quickly. A row of variegated white-and-green leaved hostas show up nicely against a backdrop of Hydrangeas in the woodland garden.




One of the best views of the landscape is from a second story deck overlooking the back yard. The beautiful design of the beds is readily apparent from this vantage point, but it is the plants on the deck that immediately capture your attention. Containers in all shapes and sizes are filled with a mixture of succulents such as jade, aloe, and cactus, fleshy trailers, and spiky plants to create charming miniature gardens. Kim said she started with just one planted container and kept adding more. All of these plants require little care and smaller-sized containers make it easy to move indoors over winter. For color on the deck, she has added bright red begonias among the succulents.


Ornamental touches add interest to the landscape everywhere you look: A wagon wheel leans against a tree trunk in the woodland garden; a wrought iron arch covered with grape vines adds old-world charm to a path; stones sit atop one another and nestle among hen-and-chicks ringed with rocks; a basket of flowers sits high above dahlias in another garden bed. All of these touches speak to the attention to detail the Zimmerman’s lavish upon their flower beds.


To read more, click here to register for the free digital August/September 2014 issue of Lake and Home Magazine. More photos, including photos not seen in the magazine, are available in the slideshow below.


by Reba Gilliand | Photography by Bryan Wendland




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