A 2018 Lens on St. Croix Valley award-winning photographer Violet Penman (featured here) likes to snap nature photos, particularly in her mother Susan’s garden. So we asked Susan about her garden and learned a lot about her obsession with nurturing and beautifying the outdoors. Originally from Hawkins, Wis., Susan moved to Hudson 14 years ago. She started working on her landscaping right away after building a home. “Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a plan when I started,” she says, adding that she initially used many plants that were given to her. Over the years, “I’ve come up with a plan and try to implement it a little at a time and have changed things to be easier to maintain and have a more modern and up-to-date look,” she says.
Susan is particularly interested in native plants or plants that are wildlife friendly like trees and shrubs that produce nuts and berries for birds and squirrels. “I don’t do many perennials,” Susan says. “But when I do, they are hybrid or native. I really like shrubs, small evergreens and trees,” like her pagoda dogwoods. “We do a garden art sale in the spring and people always comment on those trees. They have gold variegated leaves.
"They’re easy to grow and get a lot of attention,” she explains.
Susan loves to shop for plants at Squire House in Afton, Minn., because, “you never know what they’re going to have. I like to get interesting smaller trees and shrubs there,” she says. She also likes to explore the Friends School Plant Sale at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds over Mother’s Day weekend. “It’s huge and you can really find some interesting things there,” she says.
Susan says spring is the time for tidying her gardens. Then, her lower maintenance design means she spends about two hours per week over the growing season weeding, trimming and transplanting as needed.