BLOMKEST, Minn. (WCCO) — For those living in the middle of Minnesota’s farm country, it’s natural to have a green thumb.
Unlike his neighbors in Blomkest, Bill Dykstra isn’t growing commercial crops. His garden is more a labor of love.
“It’s just being out in nature,” he said. “That’s very rewarding.”
Some 23,000 annuals fill more than 2 acres of Dykstra’s property.
“Perennials are gorgeous. They have beautiful colors, but they are limited, timewise, for blooming,” Dykstra said. “Annuals, it takes longer to get going, but you have color until frost, so you can enjoy color much longer with annuals.”
The planting process takes five weeks to get all the seedlings in and then there’s the hours of weeding every day.
“My knees are holding out. My back is holding out,” Dykstra said. “Almost all these areas I have to turn by hand before I can plant because of the rocks and tree roots.”
The cultivation of his property is ultimately a showcase of color and design.
Dykstra incorporates an artistic flare into his flower beds. One garden features a pond scene, using different grasses. He also has smaller fairy gardens near his greenhouse, and the highlight of the property is a towering tree with a continuous spiral of flowers up its side.
The garden is a passion project that grew beyond expectation, and the maintenance is a family effort.
“It’s a lot of work and I thought, it should be worth something,” said Helene Dykstra, Bill’s wife.
Helene Dykstra wanted others to share in the beautiful backdrop.
“We started small with a few friends doing luncheons, on my deck, up by the house,” Helene said.
Word of the garden luncheons spread and demand grew for a tour of the flowery oasis and a home cooked meal.
“I just think it’s a beautiful place, and it’s a wonderful thing to do,” said Jana Beckering, who attended a luncheon.
Helene now hosts a fresh garden-grown meal several times a week. In addition to the flowers, the Dykstras also grow their own vegetables.
“All the salads are from the garden,” Helene said. “I do a broccoli, a bean and cabbage and spinach.”
The garden and the meals are more than just a way to entertain — both serve a greater cause.
The Dykstras don’t charge for a visit but do ask for a donation for a mission trip to Guatemala. Helene has made the journey six times to help build homes and provide wheelchairs in the Central American country through Bethel Ministries international.
“We do a three week camp for people who have gotten wheel chairs,” Helene said.
The connection to the charity is personal.
“We have a daughter who is disabled, so we are advocates for disability,” Helene said.
Years ago, Bill initially planned on growing his gardens with his daughter, Sara. However, grand mal seizures not only limited her mobility but also her ability to help.
She’s now the inspiration to keep the garden in bloom.
“She’s kind of the reason we’re doing this,” Helene said.
“I’ve always gotten a little carried away and this gives me a good reason for doing it then,” Bill said.
The Dykstras always knew beauty would grow from the flower beds every year, what they didn’t foresee was the blossoming desire in others to give.
“Just to see how this beautiful garden has evolved and their mission to Guatemala, it’s wonderful,” said Helen Destigter, who attended a luncheon.
Bill has a greenhouse allowing him to grow the annuals from seeds.
You can tour the property in Blomkest anytime until the first frost.
For more information or if you’d like to schedule a luncheon, you can contact them Dykstras at firstname.lastname@example.org.