As summer begins fading to fall, perennials such as purple asters and pink turtleheads take their mid-August turn blooming within a large community garden along a small lake in Woodbury.

More than 200 feet long and about 12 feet from front to back, the Markgrafs Lake garden is located in a high-traffic area of walkers, runners and bicyclists. The garden reflects the efforts of four dedicated women. Dubbed Woodbury’s “Wildflower Society,” neighbors Karen Billison, Joyce Flynn, June Heimer-Syring and Alyce Turgeon have ensured that their flowers and friendships take root.

“I came here not knowing a soul and within the first week, a number of neighbors came over and introduced themselves,” said Flynn, who moved to Woodbury about four years ago. “And then they told me about the garden. It started with having a love for flowers in common. It’s just a camaraderie that you develop, and out of that, for me, formed friendships as you get to know more about them. The garden has just been a gathering place.”

The garden came to be in 2005, when Billison and Turgeon received a permit offered by the city, which encouraged residents to replace invasive weeds with native plants. The city also provided a $500 grant. The duo’s garden grew to support more than plants. It is also now a certified Monarch Waystation. And it includes two bee houses to shelter pollinating mason and leaf cutting bees. A water bucket is kept full for passing dogs, too.

“This garden is definitely a gem in the community,” said Jennifer McLoughlin, Sustainability Specialist for the city of Woodbury. “The homeowners have done a great job coordinating, given the way the garden continues to be cared for even as homeowners change.”

Planting seeds

Along the way, a friendship among the women blossomed, an evolving collection of four strangers bonded by their enjoyment of beautifying their neighborhood.

It started with Billison and Turgeon breaking ground on their gardens more than 15 years ago. They dug into the hard soil on Markgrafs Lake’s west side, planting their modest gardens about a dozen yards down from their backyard patios, where the sloped lawn meets a popular paved walking path.

Both women grew up with gardens that their mothers maintained. The retired nurses began attending wildflower classes, learning more about when different regional native plants bloom as well as their sun and shade needs. Turgeon maintains a garden journal.

Soon after that, Betty Lindstrom received an invitation from Billison and Turgeon to cultivate the space between their gardens. She initially balked.

“The reason I had moved from my previous house was to get out of gardening,” said Lindstrom, who ultimately agreed to a comeback. The full garden began taking shape. And the trio started going to lunch.

When Lindstrom’s husband died, the garden provided a needed sanctuary.

“It gave me some peace I needed at the time,” she said. “I’d be out there working, listening to the birds singing and the buzzing of the bees.”

New arrivals

Then came along the fourth volunteer of the garden’s green thumbs. Flynn arrived in the neighborhood shortly after losing her husband. She closed on the house after seeing the garden. She asked her new neighbors about the garden and found herself assigned with portions of the territory belonging to Turgeon and Lindstrom.

“I wish I had a dollar for everyone that’s thanked us — we even hear it from teenage boys,” Flynn said. “I call it a healing garden. It’s good for people’s mental health.”

June Heimer-Syring became enamored of the garden while house-hunting earlier this summer.

“I saw the backyard and said, ‘I don’t care what this house costs,’ ” Heimer-Syring said.

Like Lindstrom, whose house she was buying, Heimer-Syring didn’t plan on contributing to the garden.

“The real estate agent told me some of the neighbors help take care of it. I thought, ‘That sounds like a lot of work,’ ” Heimer-Syring said. “I had already given away my garden tools before we moved. But I do love flowers.”

Joining the team meant even more than the loaf of banana bread Turgeon brought over as a welcome gift.

Heimer-Syring, still a working nurse, finds time to take part in the nonstop weeding.

“We’re the guardians of the flowers here,” she said.

Changing seasons

The ever-evolving garden offers several seasons’ worth of delights including, of course, wildflowers for which the garden is affectionately named. For Turgeon, it’s the pasque flower in the spring. Billison looks forward to the return of purple coneflowers. Flynn counts the orange phlox as her favorite.

Like the flowers, the quartet of caretakers has shifted throughout life’s changing seasons. Lindstrom recently moved to Florida, which she called a needed yet difficult shift, and meant missing her bright red bee balm flowers.

“I hated to leave our garden,” Lindstrom said. “Because, like I told my kids, it’s my legacy. And the friends I made — if we needed anything, we could call on each other. It’s another reason it was tough to leave.”

Lindstrom plans to visit next spring.

In her absence, she left a sign in the garden that reads, “Friends are the flowers in the garden of life.”

rn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup-optimizely/start"},{"id":"limit-signup","count":12,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":{"template":"{% extends "grid" %}rnrn{% block heading_text %}Youu2019ve read your 10 free articles for this 30 day period. Sign up now for local coverage you wonu2019t find anywhere else, special sections and your favorite columnists. StarTribune puts Minnesota and the world right at your fingertips. {% endblock %}rnrn{% block last %}rn{{ parent() }}rn{# limit Krux pixel from https://www.squishlist.com/strib/customshop/328/ #}rnrnrn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup/start"},{"id":"meter-desktop-331","count":10,"action":"ignore","mute":false,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/meter-desktop-331/start"},{"id":"PDA991499opt","count":9,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/PDA991499opt/start"},{"id":"limit","count":8,"action":"inject","mute":false,"action_config":{"template":"

rnrnrnrn

rn

rn

rn rn

rn t

rn SUBSCRIBErn Already a subscriber? Log in.rn

rn

All Star Tribune readers without a Digital Access subscription are given a limited number of complimentary articles every 30 days. Once the article limit is reached we ask readers to purchase a subscription including Digital Access to continue reading. Digital Access is included in all multi-day paper home delivery, Sunday + Digital, and Premium Digital Access subscriptions. After the 1 month Premium Digital Access introductory period you will be charged at a rate of $14.99 per month. You can see all subscription options or login to an existing subscription herern

rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn

rn"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit/start"},{"id":"nag","count":7,"action":"lightbox","mute":true,"action_config":{"height":null,"width":"630px","redirect_on_close":null,"template":"{% extends "shell" %}rnrn{% block substyles %}rn

rn{% endblock %}rnrn{% block page %}rn{#rnrn{{ limit - count - 1 }}rnrn{{ form.flow_form_open({nextAction: 'firstSlide'}, null, null, '_top') }}rn {{ form.btn('Save Now') }}rn{{ form.flow_form_close() }}rnrn

rnrnrnu2022 rnrnrnrn#}rn

rn

rn

You have {{ limit - count - 1 }} articles left

rn

rn rn u00a0u00a0u2022u00a0u00a0rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn Save More Todayrn

Over 70% off!

rn

rn

rn

rn

99u00a2 for first 4 weeks

rn {{ form.flow_form_open({nextAction: 'firstSlide'}, null, null, '_top') }}rn {{ form.button('Save Now', 'btn nag-btn') }}rn {{ form.flow_form_close() }}rn

rn

rn{% endblock %}rnrn{% block last %}rn{{ parent() }}rnrn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/nag/start"},{"id":"x","count":4,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/x/start"},{"id":"multi-start","count":3,"action":"fly_in","mute":true,"action_config":{"location":"bottom_left","slide_direction":"bottom","group_id":null,"display_delay":"0","collapse_delay":"10","template":"

rn

rn

rn

rn u00d7rn

rn

rn

From just

rn

$3.79 99u00a2 a week

rn Save nowrn

rn

rn

"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/multi-start/start"}]};

By admin