Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

Karen Platt

In the 1970s, commercial horticulturalists Mort and Katherine Arneson, long-time Edina residents, donated their home and 13 acres of prime land to the City with the stipulation that it be used for public gardening. Their hope was to beautify all corners of Edina and, ultimately, to make it one of Minnesota’s premier garden destinations. Over the ensuing decades, thanks to hard work and countless volunteer hours put in by the dedicated members of the Edina Garden Council and its eight constituent clubs, the Arnesons’ dream is now a reality. 

Karen Platt is one of the Hometown Heroes responsible for the Garden Council’s successes.

Platt has been an avid gardener for 12 years, and a very active member in the organization for the past eight. Currently, she serves as both Council Treasurer and as chair of the non-profit’s annual Plant Sale, which is held each May over Mother’s Day weekend.

For many in the southwest metro, the Plant Sale is the most visible function of the Edina Garden Council. A wide assortment of perennials, annuals, vegetables and herbs draws garden enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. Platt plays a lead role in recruiting and training volunteers, acquiring inventory, and setting up shop when the big weekend finally arrives.

Two important points separate this limited-time-only sale from brick-and-mortar garden emporiums open year round, Platt says. First, much of what is offered is grown by Platt and other club members in their own private lots or tended by them at Arneson Acres Park. Second, unlike commercial outfits, the Garden Council puts its proceeds right back into the community.

Big-ticket donations to the City in recent years have included a new irrigation system, fountain and gazebo. Funds raised also go toward the expenses of beautification and maintenance projects, including buckthorn removal and seasonal flower bed plantings on the Arneson property and elsewhere.

Platt is particularly pleased that, through the Garden Sale and other fundraisers, her passion for gardening is nurturing the talent of the next generation of garden enthusiasts. The Edina Garden Council, through its affiliation with the Federated Gardening Clubs of Minnesota, provides scholarships to promising students enrolled in postsecondary horticultural programs.

“I’ve always said that gardeners tend to be generous and interested people, and I can point to that program as proof positive of this,” Platt said.

Platt’s involvement with Edina’s gardening community extends beyond its fundraisers. You are also likely to find her at the Garden Council’s other headlining events, such as the Tri-City Flower Show and the biennial Edina Garden Tour. Monthly Garden Council meetings are also a calendar highlight.

Moreover, those hobbyists -- Platt included -- who want to share their interest and trade tips between meetings can also affiliate themselves with one of the Council’s eight constituent neighborhood gardening clubs.

“These groups range in size from 12 members to over 20, and are each responsible for planning and planting their own public garden,” Platt explained. “They can also plan and promote events of their own, meaning that my calendar of gardening-related activities can get quite full.”

Platt is a past president of the Winahbar Club, which plants at Valley View Road and 66th Street near Southdale Center.

“Many think of gardening as a private hobby. Yes, most gardeners enjoy some solitary communion with their home garden,” Platt said. “However, when I share some of this time with others, I learn intriguing facts and new techniques and find everyone else’s passion to be a great motivator.”

Platt encourages anyone who can spare the time to try out gardening, promising it is a great way to both take pride in Edina and to get closer to nature.

30 of 56  Heroes

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© 2016 City Of Edina, Minnesota