Neon hostas defy shade in Halvorson garden

This collection of blue pots along Mary Halvorson's driveway brings a little of the sky to earth. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Spring Valley Tribune

Mary Halvorson, who lives on Oak Hill Drive along with the Grotens, has hostas that defy the shade – in all shades of neon green.  Visitors will also be able to see her garden during the first-ever 2018 Fillmore County Master Gardeners’ “Quilt in the Garden” tour taking place Saturday, June 16. She and her husband, Gene, have lived in the center of the woodsy subdivision for the past four years. 

“Some of the things growing were here and some I put in myself,” she said. “There were a lot of big hostas here.  I put in several smaller hostas and transferred some of the bigger ones and split them.  When we moved here, there were big hostas, ground cover, bushes and small trees.” 

The Halvorsons’ garden features ferns, hostas, false indigo, astilbe, hydrangeas, pink coleus, a jack-in-the-pulpit that Mary has been encouraging for quite some time, and a driveway lined in hydrangea bushes that will soon bloom into great snowballs of color.  She’s particularly proud of the back corner of her garden just off the driveway, where the wood-cobbled path leads off to vignettes of zinnias and hostas, showing off a glimpse of where the forest has given way to a resting place.

Halvorson has been gardening for most of her life, learning how to grow plants in sunshine and shade. 

“When I was a little girl, I gardened with my grandma, and I think that kind of got me started,” she said.  “Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers.  I love peonies, and I guess if I’ve ever gardened to attract anything, hummingbirds are what I want to attract.” 

Groten’s and Halvorson’s gardens are just a sampler of the living quilt that is Fillmore County’s gardens, an array of plants with scientific and homegrown names and a collection of memories unique to each gardener. 

Details about the garden tour

The University of Minnesota Fillmore County Master Gardeners’ garden tour is slated for this Saturday, June 16, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

The self-guided tour taking place in Spring Valley, Wykoff and Ostrander gardens will be held rain or shine, and tickets are $15 in advance or $18 the day of the tour.  Tickets will be sold at retail outlets in area communities and by contacting Shelly Skindelien at 507-346-7112 or by e-mail at  All proceeds will benefit Master Gardener projects in Fillmore County. 

For more tour details, contact Skindelien or log onto the Fillmore County Master Gardeners Facebook page at