[Designer, Sydney Fritz - Detroit Lake, M.N.]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Micah J. Zimmerman, Amdak Productions
This month, Sydney Fritz, a designer at McNeal & Friends, invited us to gather in the garden and meet her grandmother and avid gardener, Cathy Fritz. Located near Detroit Lakes, Cathy's lifelong passion to create an outdoor oasis intrigues nearly everyone who passes by; whether they stop to take a photograph, smell the roses, or simply gather advice - everyone is welcome to marvel at the fruits of her labor. To design the perfect garden getaway, Sydney Fritz set the table with some of the season's freshest finds from McNeal & Friends, letting floral bring together three generations of family.
Bloom where you're Planted
Outside of her vast produce and herb garden on the lake, Cathy Fritz has a wonderland of annuals and perennials such as Alliums, Primrose, Sunflowers, Snapdragons, Heliopsis, Clematis, and two favorites, Day Lilies and Peonies - you'll also find lures for Monarch butterflies like Bee Balm and Milkweed. Look further into the garden and you'll see a vast selection of native plants and grasses with Zinnias, Hostas, Penstemon, Iris, Hollyhocks, Lilies, and Salvia - really anything that she can coax to bloom.
While Detroit Lakes has been Cathy Fritz' year-round residence since 1974, she and her husband also spend time at their cabin on Bad Medicine Lake, property on Lake Sallie and another property on Round Lake. She is a retired occupational therapist with the school district and has three grown children and eight grandchildren, so her garden is not the only thing that keeps her busy.
Garden Party: Inspired by Design
With admiration for her grandmother's green thumb, her designer granddaughter, Sydney Fritz, had no trouble setting a perfect garden party scene. "All of the linens, cutting board and place settings can be found at McNeal & Friends. The dishes are by Juliska; I chose their Berry & Thread collection because it's perfect for a garden party, then mixed in some of their new collection, the Sitio Stripe Indigo design," explained Sydney Fritz. "They may look delicate, but both are dishwasher and oven-safe. One of my favorite pieces on the table is the MATCH pewter-footed, glass bud vase - this is a beautiful piece that can also be found at McNeal & Friends."
How does your garden grow?
"This has been a work in progress since the late 70s. We kept losing elm trees when we first moved here, so there were a lot of bare spots - I just kind of kept adding," said Cathy Fritz. "We also had too much shade, so I couldn't grow grass, so I'd just dig up another spot. I'm kind of random gardener, I don't usually have a big plan in mind, but I try to do different heights and color."
After some sensible advice from Brad Walvatne of Lake Country Gardens, Cathy doesn't resort to landscape fabric to control weeds. "He said that dirt comes in from the wind, and you'll get weeds anyway, even with fabric. I don't like rock, so I use mulch - it's natural and helps keep the moisture and nutrients in," said Cathy Fritz. "I only fertilize once at the end of May with a granular fertilizer that you can shake on." Cathy typically goes through eight or nine jugs. She also recommends finding some good black peat and steering clear of manure to avoid weeds; she gets her peat from a farmer in Audubon. "Plant something and see how it goes; if it doesn't work, you plant something else," she explained. "If it doesn't grow in one spot, try another spot."
"This is been a work in progress since the late 70s. We kept losing elm trees when we first moved here, so there were a lot of bare spots - I just kind of kept adding."
A Labor of Love
Cathy works in her garden several hours a day, especially in May and June. Sometimes she gets a little help from her grandkids, and sometimes they just stop by to pick bouquets. "Cathy's dad gardened, so ever since then, it's been her passion," said her daughter-in-law, Wendy Fritz. "I'm married to her son; he's a vegetable gardener, but I've also tried to garden and I just don't make things grows like she can - you really have to have a passion for it. People are always stopping by and asking for advice, or asking who her gardener is. She's a fantastic cook and baker too, using many of the herbs and produce that she grows in the garden. It's a lot of work for anyone, but I think it's therapeutic for her. It's just beautiful, each week there is something new blooming."
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