By Crystal Dey
Gardens with a flair so fanciful, Tolkien would be green with envy
Homegrown isn’t just the name of her radio show, it’s a way of life for Linda Kellerman.
Originally from Minneapolis, Kellerman ditched the city scene, retreated to a peaceful parcel northwest of Alexandria and has cultivated almost two acres into a splendid shire fit for fairies and gnomes.
Kellerman was drawn to Douglas County after spending many wonderful summers at her parents’ home on Lake Carlos. For the past 23 years, she and her husband Richard, who answers to “John,” have called Alexandria home.
A master gardener since 1995, Kellerman hosts Homegrown, a live gardening show, on KXRA Radio. She’s had the gig for eight years and looks forward to Saturday mornings when she can nurture listeners’ passion for nature.
When did you first realize you had a green thumb?
I grew up in a gardening family. My grandfather grew fruit trees, two acres of vegetables, and many blooming plants, but his specialty was roses. At the height of his rose passion, he grew more than 30 varieties.
My father also was a wonderful gardener. At our home in St. Louis Park, he built a fish pond with a Pagoda. When my parents retired to Alexandria, he continued with a large vegetable garden and fruit trees.
I’ve always gardened and I married a man who also loves gardening. Things really came into focus for me when we moved here and I had two acres to work with; what a joy!
Who or what inspired you to become a master gardener?
We had the good fortune to move next door to Keith and Sheila Norling; Sheila is a master gardener. At that time, there were three master gardeners in the county. Now, the Douglas County Master Gardeners boasts a membership of more than 50 volunteers.
Master gardener interns are given 50 hours of horticulture education in exchange for 50 hours of volunteer work given back to your county the first year. Your continuing commitment to the program is a minimum of 25 hours volunteer work a year.
I heard you have a “fairy garden.” What is a fairy garden?
This project began as a present from my husband for my 50th birthday. He cleared an area in our small woods and from cut firewood created rustic fairy homes. We laid in a pond and trails and planted miniature plants. This garden has grown over the years and now has more ponds and a waterfall, many more buildings that my husband created, many of stone and stained glass. There is a collection of fairy figures as well. Our latest area is the “Gnome Home” at the base of our giant basswood, complete with doors and stained glass windows and, of course, gnomes!
What’s the weirdest question you’ve gotten on Homegrown?
I am blessed with a savvy and smart listening audience and all questions are good questions. Recently, I had a caller ask whether I had ever seen a new kind of squirrel with a big behind and very short tail. I knew she was asking a serious question, but it sounded so funny that it took a few seconds to answer, “No.” She called back the next week to report she Googled “Big Butt Squirrel” and found that it probably was a defect of some sort…poor squirrel… but it made for a funny moment.
What is your favorite plant?
I love perennials, blooming and not blooming. I love fragrance and I love the old fashioned flowers you would find in a cottage garden. Peonies, iris, daylily, lupine, poppy. My garden is quite shaded so I also love hosta, ferns, bleeding hearts, trillium. You know, I really haven’t met many plants I don’t like.
How does a person turn their black thumb green?
Turn to someone who gardens and ask for guidance. I have learned a great deal from other gardeners. For example, have patience, sometimes a plant needs to find the right “home.” Even a distance of a few feet can prove to be the right move. Poppies dislike being transplanted or moved. They a have a long tap root, but once you find their “home,” they will bloom happily for years.
What are your other interests?
My husband and I are very proud grandparents. Our son and his wife have five wonderful kids. We also have two toy Japanese chins and an English bulldog. We have bred Persian kittens for years. I enjoy wildlife and feeding birds. Another passion is cooking. I really enjoy creating new dishes. I love to read and of course I love to talk; just ask my poor husband.
What can Generation Z learn from your generation?
I will be celebrating my 60th birthday this April and am still surprised to see the face that greets me in the mirror. I don’t think much has really changed in my lifetime except technology. Values and beliefs are still the most important part of how you live your life. Don’t let other people define who you are. Live your life with boundless joy and respect others and the planet we all share.
Nominate your favorite extraordinary woman in Douglas County!
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