Located on the border of Plymouth and Wayzata near the bank of quaint Gleason Lake, you’ll find the home of Heidi and Dan Heiland. Set back in a quiet neighborhood, the home shelters a magnificent, sprawling garden, or what Heidi Heiland likes to call, “their little slice of Eden.”
A local all her life, Heiland spent her childhood growing up in nearby Deephaven. After stints in Colorado, London and South America, she moved with her husband to their current home 12 years ago. “I just had to get back to the water,” says Heiland. The couple rebuilt the home to their tastes four years ago, including sustainable approaches like a geothermal heating and cooling system and a state-of-the-art irrigation system that uses lake water (perfect for a master gardener). Today Heiland is the owner of Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens, which provides sustainable landscape design and year-round garden management services, while her husband specializes in hardscapes with his complementary company, Cowboy Concrete.
Heiland’s gardening experience spans the past 32 years; she started her own gardening company at just 17. So when it comes to her garden, Heiland is guided by the notion of using the right plant in the right place. “This is the best way,” she says. “I’ve been designing that way for years.” Heiland says a lot of the plants there currently have followed her from other places and walks of life. The result is an amazing 400-plus varieties of plant materials, which are predominately blooming shrubs and perennials.
For instance, the hollyhock blooming in the backyard garden is a memento of Heiland’s mother-in-law Helen, who passed away in 2010. Heiland transplanted the fickle flower from Helen’s garden. Once transplanted, she tells the story of her husband caring for the flower, watering it and of course, its unexpected bloom mid-summer. “When they bloom here, we think of Helen,” she says.
Though she doesn’t tend to her personal garden every day, Heiland likes to get out there whenever she can. Depending on the time of year, Heiland might spend more time in her garden doing things like mulching and pulling weeds. However, it’s the vegetable garden and containers that take most of the work, she says. Heiland also tries to space her blooming shrubs so that they don’t need to be pruned as often, cutting down on the work.
“Most gardens have a story,” says Heidi Heiland, and hers is no exception. We took a stroll through her expansive yard, each plant with its own unique story and place in the earth, and present to you now a tour of this biblically beautiful space, in pictures.
As you pull up on the Heiland home, you pass through an entrance courtyard where Heiland practices small-space gardening using drought-tolerant plants. “It evolves every couple of weeks,” she says, peppering the garden with different vibrant blooms and stamped color concrete (courtesy of her husband, of course). Heiland will be the first to tell you that the Edelweiss is her favorite flower in the courtyard, if not overall, as it reminds her of her father. She tells the story of when Dad gave her the Edelweiss, known for growing on high rocky crags. The story goes that a man would risk his life to climb the rocks just to get an Edelweiss bloom for his lady.
Heiland’s herb garden sits just outside her kitchen, where she can draw culinary inspiration from the flavors by just looking (or sniffing) out the window. As far as herbs go, Heiland considers mint her favorite and remembers receiving it from one of her first client’s gardens. “I have a big patch of mint,” she says, adding that she loves to put it in her iced tea all summer long.
You could wander for hours in the Heiland’s backyard, a serene picture of floral fantasies for any aspiring gardener. From the miniature garden to the bank along Gleason Lake flourishing with a rain garden of native plants, the Heilands’ slice of Eden is nothing short of breathtaking.
One of Heiland’s favorite blooms out back is Menarda (or bee balm), which comes from the mint family. Heiland recommends using the native Menarda in a rain garden, while the cultivar is known as an aggressive plant and can be found in a host of colors.
Astilbe also graces the Heilands’ backyard, coming in a variety of heights and colors. Easy to grow in an area that receives both sun and shade, Heiland has planted hers on the edge of her garden because it makes a great cut for arrangements.
Heiland also tries her luck with tropical plants in her backyard during the summer. When the winter months approach, Heiland loads them up and brings them to the couple’s nursery in Corcoran, where the flowers remain dormant at a comfortable 50 degrees until the following spring when the frost disappears and they can return to the garden.
Every variety of plant here is labeled (because, she says, “even I can’t remember them all”). “I like to try weird stuff,” she says, often picking up slips of plants when she’s traveling. Heiland also incorporates a lot of Minnesota-grown plants, utilizing local growers whenever possible, along with some custom growers.
“There’s always the challenge of getting continuity in a collector’s garden,” she says. But that certainly doesn’t stop her.
Tips for Plymouth Gardeners
- Compost heavily, especially for shrub borders. Plymouth soil can be sandy and clay-like, so composting adds structure to the soil and opens it up for moisture retention.
- Wood chip mulch every 3–5 years. Heiland recommends using mini pine-bark nuggets for gardens that are mulched annually (like perennia and vegetable gardens), which break down into the soil well.
- Focus on your lake-scaping. Use appropriate plants that tolerate being wet and have long tap roots to help filter the waters running into nearby lakes.
- Water! Heiland recommends watering deeply and less frequently. This helps to build longer roots so plants can last longer between watering. Try watering for 45-60 minutes every three to five days.