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Showers of Praise : ‘Natural Artist’ Grows Work of Art in Lakeside

Times Staff Writer

Surrounded by plain ranch-style houses and barren brown hills here is a little piece of Eden. Along a busy road, not far off California 67, the roadside suddenly explodes with color. Blue, red, orange and yellow flowers bloom along the shoulder of a four-lane road in an area that looks as though it could not support life. And that is just an introduction to Alice Minard’s garden.

Her one-story house is low and unobtrusive amid a garden that has been hailed in a television show as one of the most beautiful in the world. Flowering trees hug the walls and colors flow from one patch to the next.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jun. 15, 1985 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 15, 1985 San Diego County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 3 Column 2 Metro Desk 1 inches; 14 words Type of Material: Correction
In Friday’s edition, the name of Alice Menard of Lakeside was misspelled in a story about her garden.

A single yellow-gold day lily rises above ground-hugging flowers and a rosebush with both yellow and red blossoms--Joseph’s Coat--climbs to the roof. The rose is as tall as the nearby purple-flowering tree, rose of Sharon. On a warm afternoon the air is rich with fragrance.

“Things go different for me than they do for other people,” said Minard, a trim, tan woman of 55. “I was given a gift.”

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One of the secrets to her green thumb, she said, is a special feeling she has about the flowers. “I relate to them. I will handle them and tell them how beautiful they are.”

Minard, who calls herself a “natural artist,” has been cultivating the same garden since she moved to her Lakeside home more than 37 years ago. She estimates there are 150 to 200 kinds of flowers on her one-third-acre property. The natural-looking landscape with its mixture of colors and types is no place for such flowers as gladiolas, Minard said--"They’re too stiff.”

After 37 years of marriage, with gardening as a hobby, she has begun making a living with her garden. She says her garden gave her the courage to go through with a divorce last year. “I came out here one day and asked myself, ‘Are you going to spend the rest of your life in this situation?’ I looked at my garden and said, ‘It’s about time to put this to work.’ ”

When she opened her garden in April to paying visitors for the first time, 1,500 people trampled through her yard in four days. She will open it again June 28 through 30. She gives classes, using the garden as her classroom, and does consulting. This spring, she designed the garden of the Lakeside Mortuary.

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The centerpiece of Minard’s garden is the rose garden. Sixty varieties of roses bloom between March and December, creating a veritable riot of color. Reds, peaches, pinks and yellows in all sizes mingle in a meticulously cared-for plot with the look of a wild and beautiful meadow. There are Bing Crosby roses--bright scarlet blossoms on tall stems--and Faberge roses--tiny, pale-pink flowers on a low bush.

Minard’s garden has been featured in House and Garden magazine and, she says, is planned for the cover of the September issue of Sunset. It was seen on the KPBS-TV “Victory Gardens” series, where it was described as “comparable to any garden in the world.”

Minard says gardening is gaining popularity, and that her showplace has helped the trend on a small level.

“When you’re around beauty, you feel better,” she said. “People go away from here just elated. They start gardening and pass it on. The whole thing is catching.”

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