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HOM Take the tour and have a regular garden party

By Dawn Schuett

schuett@postbulletin.com

KELLOGG -- Lilies, Russian sage and purple balloon flowers sway in the summer breeze at Sharron Dick's garden as though they're waving to passersby.

When the blooms beckon, neighbors and strangers alike can't help but pause at the garden at the corner of Sheppard Street and Winona Avenue in Kellogg.

"It's there for anybody to enjoy whenever," said Dick, a gardener for 45 years.

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Dick's garden is among 47 listed by the Mississippi Valley Partners, a coalition of 14 communities promoting tourism along the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as part of a self-guided tour known as the "100 Miles of Gardens."

The organization has publicized the garden tour for at least two years, said Edna Hovde, spokeswoman for Mississippi Valley Partners. As attractions, the public and private gardens appeal to those with varying interest in gardening, Hovde said.

The gardens range in size from a small community plot in Red Wing dedicated to the memory of Delbert Dankers, a longtime employee of the city's public works department and founding member of the Goodhue County Horticultural Society, to the C. A. Rohrer Rose Garden at Lake Park in Winona where there are more than 500 plants and 50 varieties of roses.

Each garden is tended to by an individual or a group of people who takes as much pride in the results as knowing others enjoy the beauty, too.

Dick comes from a family that loved to garden.

"My mother was a gardener, my grandmother loved flowers and my sisters love flowers," Dick said. "I guess I come by it naturally."

Terry Yockey's passion for gardening began 27 years ago when her daughter was a colicky infant. Yockey learned to soothe her daughter by having her in a back carrier as Yockey gardened.

"I started really loving gardening just by getting out there and doing it everyday," said Yockey, a Goodhue County master gardener who welcomes visitors to her gardens in Red Wing. "It's the essence of me so I can't imagine what my life would be like without gardening."

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Yockey, who also writes columns about gardening for Northern Gardener magazine and the Red Wing Republican Eagle and has a Web site at www.northerngardening.com, devotes about 3/4 of an acre and several hours a day to different types of gardens.

She has perennial gardens, shrub gardens, an ornamental grass garden and a fragrance garden. Her favorite is the kitchen garden with vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.

"It not only looks beautiful and smells beautiful, but it produces lots of cucumbers and salad greens," Yockey said. "It just does it all."

As one stop along the 100 Miles of Gardens, Yockey has welcomed garden clubs from Rochester and Eagan, Minn., and students in a community education class from Cottage Grove, Minn., to view her gardens.

"I think it's a really great way to get people to discover how wonderful it is along Lake Pepin."

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