Reviewing the FamilyMeans St. Croix Garden Tour

The 2013 St. Croix Garden Tour benefitting FamilyMeans wrapped up this past weekend, July 13 - 14. There were many guests in attendance, both newcomers and veteran tour attendees, all of whom were granted a beautiful weekend to get out and see nine different gardens in the Stillwater, Minnesota area. Aaron Wahlstrom, a second year veteran attendee and FamilyMeans staff member, recaps his experience.

St. Croix Garden Tour

Having only been on two St. Croix Garden Tours in my life, I certainly don't feel qualified enough to say whether or not the 21st Annual tour was one of the best ones ever, but I do know I certainly had just as much fun as I did my first year, so that has to count for something. With gardens ranging from hidden gems right within Stillwater to a country oasis, there was plenty of greenery that caught tour guests' eyes.

Below are just a few of my favorite features from this year's tour. We'll be gathering reviews and hearing thoughts from attendees as the weeks go on, but I wanted to get my impressions down early so I didn't forget them all. Let me hear your favorite things about the tour in the comments!

Rain Gardens in Stillwater

The Rain Couldn't Stop Us!

From FamilyMeans staff, to supporting guests, to garden owners themselves, we learned this weekend that not even a little rain could stop us. There were some pretty heavy storms that swept through the Stillwater area Friday night, and most people were rightfully concerned about whether the tour would go on at all over the weekend, or at the very least how the gardens would hold up! Some garden owners may have seen the difference over the weekend, but I can vouch that as a guest visiting all of these gardens for the first time, they all held up amazing considering the weather. Personally, I thought the fresh rainfall added a nice punch of color to the locations anyway, making many of the gardens and garden features pop, like the awesome rain gardens from Garden One this year. You can bet those were full!

Labyrinth Garden in Stillwater

Unique Features Abound

I'm sure everyone had their own favorite unique features from every garden, but I was amazed at how each location had its own entirely separate feature or story. From pain staking crated labyrinth at Garden Three, to the personal beach front at Garden Four, to the verdant vegetable garden at Garden Eight that would make Laura Ingalls Wilder blush, each location offered a couple more ideas for tour guests to try to add to their own backyards. Of course, having lake access helps immensely in some of these cases!

Child in Garden

Garden Tour for All Ages

The FamilyMeans St. Croix Garden Tour has been going on for 21 years. There have certainly been some tour guests who have been to all 21 of those tours, but there was a surprising number of guests who attended this year who weren't even born when the Garden Tour started! And I'm not just talking about kids who were brought along with their parents, but high school aged kids, both boys and girls, who were able to enjoy a day out with friends or family. And not only is it great to see a younger generation take such an active interest in gardening, but also learning and supporting community organizations like FamilyMeans early in their life. You never know; the teens attending the Garden Tour today may be the next members of our Next Gen Committee tomorrow!

Stillwater Garden Tour Guests

Support for the Community

More than anything, the St. Croix Garden Tour proved to be another great example of how the St. Croix community comes together to strengthen our bonds. The tour was busy (we'll have more visitor data for you soon) with guests coming in and out of the FamilyMeans' Stillwater office all weekend long, but there was also tons of support from our list of great sponsors (see them all here, and give them a big thank you!), our amazing volunteers, families, and so many more people. My group and I were able to make it to lunch at the Chilkoot Cafe, who offered a discount on meals to Garden Tour guests, and when we visited the place was packed! I'm sure other lunch sponsors Lake Elmo Inn and Patriot's Tavern also experienced similar business this weekend. So not only were guests coming together to support FamilyMeans, but they reached out a bit further this weekend to help their local businesses too, as well as get to know their neighbors. It was really a great and inspiring community event.

We have so much more to share in the following weeks, but don't want to leave you hanging now. FamilyMeans and several others were able to capture the St. Croix Garden Tour as it was happening this weekend by tagging social media posts with #FMGT13. People shared photos, opinions on gardens, videos, and more. You can still join the conversation by using that same hashtag on places like Facebook, Twitter, and others, or check out some of the highlights on those accounts below:

- #FMGT13 on Facebook
- #FMGT13 on Twitter
- #FMGT13 on Instagram

What was your favorite part of the tour?