DULUTH — Victoria Volz’s love of gardening grew from a young age. The East Hillside neighborhood resident grew up in St. Louis, where she lived a block away from the Missouri Botanical Garden.
“In the summertime, I would hop over the fence so I didn’t have to pay. It was like 35 cents, so pretty nominal, but that’s a lot of money for a kid,” Volz said. “And eventually I took gardening lessons there and learned about what to plant where.”
Volz found her love for gardening reignited in the height of the pandemic. She couldn’t go out much, but found that staying inside her home drove her crazy.
“So I started up a new garden. And that was my lifesaver garden,” Volz said. “I feel so much closer to God. It’s really my therapy, to get out here eight to 10 hours a day.”
Volz started her garden by visiting nurseries and asking questions about what she should plant. She started in the front of her yard, but in the three years since she started, her garden has grown to cover almost any space she can find surrounding her house.
“I wanted to have a good mix of perennials and annuals, so I started the garden in front. Then it moved to the ones in the back,” Volz said. “And then it was the big one along the side, but I’m having to move that one back a little bit since it’s too close to the road.”
Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Dirt washes off.
Volz’s neighbors took notice of her garden. She said many of her neighbors stop by to chat when she’s out working.
“I’m glad they get a kick out of it. They come by and say, ‘I love your garden,’ and I’m like, well thank you. I don’t really know what else to say.”
“It’s breathtaking,” said Penney Gooch, a neighbor. “She hauled 50-pound loads of dirt in a little wheelbarrow by herself, worked sunup to sundown for weeks, to complete this project before her ankle surgery. She has made the neighborhood more beautiful, for sure.”
Volz had surgery on her ankle this summer and one of the hardest parts for her was not being able to go out into her garden.
“I could see it from my window, but I couldn’t go out for the first few weeks. It was horrible. I could just see the weeds growing in. I’m still working to get it back from that,” Volz said.
Most of Volz’s garden is a variety of flowers. She said she used to grow vegetables, but that she would sometimes end up with more a harvest than she knew what to do with.
“I’d try going around the neighborhood with baskets of tomatoes and cucumbers, and some people liked it, some people didn’t like tomatoes or whatever, so I decided I’m just doing the flowers for me and people can appreciate them by looking at them,” Volz said.
What advice does Volz have for others who are looking to start their gardens?
“Don’t be afraid to get dirty,” Volz said. “Dirt washes off. I have to scrub this off, but it’s so worth it.”
That and water everything often to see the best results.
“If you don’t water it, it’ll die. So water it right away the next morning and again at night. Especially on years like this,” Volz said.
Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she’s an avid reader and crafter.