Gilfillan Gardens Provide Tapestry of Color

Written by: Ellen Sanko, a Friends of Gilfillan volunteer.

The Gilfillan Estate will be open for the tour season in Early June and will be open each weekend through August. Tours of the original Gilfillan home and other outbuildings are given by the volunteer “Friends of Gilfillan” from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, or by appointment during the week. The estate will also be open for tours during Farmfest, each Augus, when music and special events will be added.

Impressive on it’s own, the beauty of the large white Gilfillan home is further enhanced by the colorful gardens that welcome visitors to the estate. As she has done each year since 1993, Lynn Hacker of Hacker’s Nursery in Sleepy Eye has again developed the planting plans for the Gilfillan gardens. Friends of Gilfillan volunteers, together with other community volunteers, gather in late May to transfer the plans from designs on paper and numbered flats of seedlings, to what will soon be overflowing beds of color. Some 4000 annuals are added to the gardens each spring to supplement the perennials that provide the structure of the garden from year to year.

Like the estate itself, the garden is a study of old and new. Old photos revealed that Mrs. Gilfillan’s garden hosted varieties of Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Phlox, Daylilies, Cranesbills and Iris. New hybrid varieties of those same flowers can be found in today’s garden. Tried and true favorites from decades ago and newly tested hybrids are woven into the garden plan to create tapestries of color and texture that last from early spring through fall.

Originally, the garden was located on the west side of the house where it was visible from the home’s formal dining room, a view especially appreciated by Mrs. Gilfillan. To provide the fresh-cut flowers Mrs. Gilfillan enjoyed having in the house, she also planted many annual flowers to supplement the perennials. The sundial from Mrs. Gilfillan’s original garden continues to serve as a focal point in the current garden.

John Waidelich and several other Friends of Gilfillan volunteers maintain the garden throughout the summer to keep it looking its best. The garden, together with the recently added water feature, provides a lovely setting for many weddings, reunions and other events held on the grounds of Gilfillan each year.

A tour of the Gilfillan Estate offers many glimpses of the past that invoke memories of yesteryear. A walk through the garden instills a sense of peace that brings perspective to today’s busy life.

The Gilfillan Estate is located on Hwy. 67 between Morgan and Redwood Falls.