Gardens are always 'an act in progress'Carlton County Master Gardener Nan Lindquist has lived on the same land in Esko for 44 years, where she and her husband, Mel, farmed for many years, raising beef cattle, dairy cows and chickens.
By: Sarah VanderMeiden, Carlton County Master Gardener
Carlton County Master Gardener Nan Lindquist has lived on the same land in Esko for 44 years, where she and her husband, Mel, farmed for many years, raising beef cattle, dairy cows and chickens. Nan milked all the cows herself and also sold fresh eggs.
Once they decided to stop farming around 1980, Nan and her husband planted over 40,000 spruce, Norway pine and ash trees on their land. These trees have now grown to create a beautiful forest surrounding the house and yard.
Nan remarked that the new forest has brought an abundance of wildlife, including songbirds, partridge and deer, to the yard. Recently, Nan had a barred owl visiting her yard and enjoyed watching it from its perch just six feet from her window.
Nan’s gardening roots run deep. As she was growing up in Duluth’s West End, her parents were passionate gardeners, winning the Duluth Garden Flower Society’s “Yard of the Year” award in 1949.
Nan grew up working in the yard alongside her parents and said it was a “no brainer” to become a gardener herself. In memory of her parents, Nan has established a perennial garden of all white flowers in her yard. The garden is surrounded by a white picket fence and crowned with an arbor.
Largely self-taught, Nan said her passion and interest in gardening allows her to absorb all the skills she needs to be successful. Nan has developed a reputation of being able to bring a nearly dead plant back to life. Laughing, she comments that this unfortunately doesn’t happen with every dead plant she tries to revive, however!
She has been a Master Gardener for 18 years and is the longest-serving active Master Gardener in Carlton County. Her areas of expertise include perennial gardening, roses and orchids. A member of the Minnesota Orchid Society, she owns over 100 orchid plants, the oldest of which is about 20 years old.
Nan considers her greatest success as a gardener to be the number of people who have wanted to come visit her gardens.
As a member of multiple gardening clubs, she has hosted several garden tours over the years. In fact, the Duluth Garden Flower Society once brought seven busloads of visitors to her property.
She said her greatest challenge as a Master Gardener would have to be answering questions about landscaping, due to the many factors that go into making landscape recommendations.
She advises Master Gardeners to schedule a visit to the homeowner’s site before attempting to answer questions about landscaping.
She also suggests that Master Gardeners become comfortable with saying, “I don’t know, but I’ll be sure to research your question and get back to you!”
The number one issue Nan sees new gardeners struggle with is the temptation to get too big, too soon.
Sometimes new gardeners get so excited about all the different things they want to try in their yard, they take on too much, which results in them getting overwhelmed and eventually losing interest. She advises that gardeners tackle their yard one garden at a time.
For perspective, Nan’s own gardens were established over a 40-year period and, she pointed out the process is never complete.
She said her favorite gardening tool would have to be a ratcheting nipper. When asked about her favorite pest control methods, she remarked that she prefers organic methods.
One spray that seems effective against insects is a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 drop of dish soap and a quart of water.
As for managing deer, Nan swears by “Plantskyd,” an organic repellant that comes in granules and a spray. She puts it on everything, says it really works and that one application will last four to six months.
She purchases this product from Widdes Feed Store on Highway 61 in Esko.
Through her hard work and dedication to her property, Nan Lindquist has created a sanctuary for plants, birds, animals and people alike.