Travels inspire Kimballs' lily patch – Park Rapids Enterprise

Lilies began to bloom on Deerwood Loop when Dick Kimball retired from the Department of Natural Resources in 2007.


Dick Kimball welcomes visitors to his garden on Deerwood Loop.

Contributed / Jean Ruzicka

The Area Supervisor for Trails and Waterways had set two goals upon retirement: learning to cook and establishing a flower garden.

As a freshman in high school (1963), he had assisted in planting the pine plantation on what would become the “Loop” under the tutelage of Clyde Johnson.

Kimball and wife Raylene moved a house and garage from the Nevis area to the spot in 1988, subsequently remodeling and adding to their abode several times. Their original homestead had no yard; sand and weeds were simply replaced with grass.

Now, “14 years in the making,” 30 varieties of Asiatic lilies bloom in splendor from mid-June to mid to late July under the pines.


The Kimballs have headed to points across the Atlantic and Disney World to gain an understanding of plants.

Contributed / Jean Ruzicka

The Kimballs headed to Disney World in Florida for many years, not to experience the theme parks but viewing the tiered gardens at Saratoga Springs Resort.

“What kind of dirt do you use?” was met with a correction. “It’s soil,” the horticulturalist in the massive greenhouse told him. “Not dirt.”

Travels to Europe, Drummond Castle in Scotland, specifically, had piqued Kimball’s interest. Drummond holds the characteristics of a 17th century Scottish Renaissance garden, restructured in early Victorian times and renewed again in the 20th century when the garden framework and the exceptional interest of the original 19th century design were carefully preserved. It’s considered to be one the top three gardens in Europe.

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Intrigued, they headed home with intentions to grow a garden “organized for color, not formal.”


The hardy Asiatic lily makes a perfect plant for landscape design, to which the Kimball garden attests.

Contributed / Jean Ruzicka

“We came back and started planting,” originally lilies from local greenhouses, expanding to Internet sources. “Garden centers are one of the most dangerous places for us to go,” Dick admits of his “addiction.”

The lilies are now augmented with delphiniums, sedum and – to butterflies’ delight – milkweed. A flagstone walkway was recently added. Hostas that once graced the front of Beagle Books have found a new home at the Kimballs’. And annuals add character to the cornucopia of color.

“We have seen gardens all over the world. We are not trying to replicate. We hope to bring happiness and joy,” he said, extending an open invitation for people to drop by anytime.

As for his cooking goal: “I’m getting better.” He views recipes as mere “suggestions, like traffic signs in Europe. They give me ideas.

“I make a mean cheesecake …”


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