Giant basket garden finds a new home

Dori Husmann stands next to the giant concrete basket on her lawn last fall. Husmann, an avid gardener, planted flowers in the basket for close to 40 years. (Photo submitted)

Husmann and her family donated the basket to Riverside Gardens in Monticello last week. The basket overlooks the pond at the gardens. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It’s been a little over 40 years since a giant concrete basket was delivered to Dori Husmann’s home in rural Monticello. Now, that basket sits on a concrete pad overlooking a pond at Riverside Gardens, for all to enjoy.

     In the mid-1970s, Husmann’s son, Jim, was a student at the University of Northern Iowa, having returned home from his military service. He lived in a house off-campus with several other students. One of his roomates’ brothers made the concrete basket and left it on their front yard as a May Day basket. However, the guys never used it as a garden planter, its intention.

     When the guys moved out of the house, the basket needed a new home. It was moved from Cedar Falls to rural Scotch Grove.

     “Jim wanted someone to have it so people could see it,” said Husmann all these years later. “And now more people will see it and enjoy it at Riverside.”

     Husmann said the basket arrived at their home shortly after they moved there.

     The unique structure is estimated to weigh between 600 and 700 pounds. It weighs more when filled with dirt and plantings.

     Husmann is an avid gardener. At one time she was a member of the Garden Club that planted flowers at the fountain near the Aquatic Center. Over the years she planted a variety of flowers inside the basket: marigolds, violas and taller plants as well. Of her produce garden, Husmann said she gives 90 percent away. The rest of the produce she uses to make jams or for canning.

     “I used to help my mom in her garden when I was younger,” she recalled of gardening all her life.

     Husmann said as she gets older, it gets harder and harder for her to garden like she used to. Not wanting the basket to deteriorate, her family thought it would be good to donate it to Riverside Gardens.

     “I thought that was a good place for it,” Husmann said.

     Husmann’s daughter, Jill Brokaw, contacted a member of the Riverside Garden Club, Dorrean Bohlken, to see if they would even be interested. They were delighted!

     “Dorrean took the idea to their board meeting and they were excited,” said Brokaw.

     Bohlken’s son-in-law Steve McCormick volunteered his time and efforts to transport the large basket from Husmann’s home to the gardens. A cement pad was poured for the basket to elevate it a bit. The Bohlens power washed the basket as well to spruce it up a bit.

     “It’s quite a novelty,” remarked Husmann. “I’ve enjoyed it for a number of years here.”



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