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Front Yard Garden of the Week: Landscaping is team effort for Bemidji couple

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I am pleased to introduce Terra and Charlie Nichols who reside at 1432 America Ave. N.W. as this week's Front Yard Gardeners.

When I arrived at their home to interview Terra for this article, I realized quickly that their yard and the many flower and vegetable gardens were a team effort. Their lawn and trees were meticulously groomed and well watered; their vegetable and flower gardens were all having a grand season and overflowing with buds, fruit and flowers.

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Terra and Charlie have been busy propagating plants to get ready for our short summer growing season. Terra started a large amount of her own flowers and vegetables from seeds, multiplied her favorites by stem cuttings, and, using her favorite propagation method, gathering seeds and plants from family members and friends. A couple of Terra's most treasured plants are the purple irises from her grandma and the peonies from her great-grandma found tucked in the side yard by her grandpa's antique plow and other found treasures. I was amused at the golf club plant stakes used to hold up the larger plants. Now there's a great use for my golf clubs, if I can find them.

Terra and Charlie have been married for about three years and have spent those last three years working together creating their front yard gardens. For better visibility and to bring in some good soil, they have made three raised islands in their front yard. About 6-12-inches of thick, black Red River Valley soil was hauled in and is held in place with various sizes of rocks the couple has collected. The contrast between the dark, green lawn and the lighter-colored rocks helps set off each island for people traveling by on foot or in a car.

The garden islands are planted with white alyssum, bright red salvia and dozens of double impatiens. Many varieties of hostas can be found in both the front and side gardens, too. Hens-and-chicks are multiplying around the rock edges.

I would classify the Terra and Charlie's three new front yard gardens as shade gardens, but they do get some mid-day sun before they are shaded again by a number of beautiful mature trees, which Charlie also cares for.

When I asked what their favorite plants were, Charlie said his favorite annual is dianthus and the iris his favorite perennial. Terra's favorite annuals are "anything cottage gardeney such as love-lies-bleeding, cosmos, calendula, pansies, marigolds, cleome, poppies." Terra's favorite perennials include peonies, foxglove, roses, delphinium and hollyhocks.

The rest of the Nichols property to the side and back of their home is covered with the cottage style flower gardens, numerous pots, paths and a large vegetable garden located at the rear of the lot to catch the most sun possible. Terra plants tomatoes, peppers, spinach, carrots, onions, kohlrabi, beets, cabbage, beans, herbs and more, both in the garden and in large pots she is able to move around to catch the sun. At harvest time, Terra makes pesto mayo for their BLT sandwiches, pickled beans, jams, jellies, salsa and more with her homegrown produce.

With all these talents, I knew Terra had grown up on a farm or had participated in 4-H. Terra was a part of the Buena Vista Bear Tracks 4-H club and now enters in the open classes at the fair every year. This gives me the chance to remind Pioneer readers that the Beltrami County Fair is coming up in a couple of weeks and it's time to plan your entries. Visit www.beltramicountymastergardeners.org, and click on the Beltrami County Fair box in the middle of the page. You will find information on the fair, premium lists and preparing your herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers for entry.

Drive, bike or walk by Terra and Charlie Nichols' home and their front yard gardens this week. If they are working in their gardens, let them know just how much their beautiful front yard gardens help make Bemidji a beautiful and special place to live.

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