Press Releases

Artistic Landscaping in Harmony with Nature

Article reprinted with permission by Northland Press, Inc. - July 12, 2005
Story and photographs by Paul Boblett, Editor 
The tour conducted by Woodspirit Gardens owner Daniel Dix at his outdoor water garden display in Backus, MN was a fascinating trip into the past with a vision to the future of landscape possibilities. Daniel and his staff have created astounding waterfall gardens, traditional stonewalls, and landscape sanctuaries of the future with ties to remind us where we come from. By using both natural and cut stones, salvaged handmade pavers from the old streets of Minneapolis, heritage timbers, northern white cedars, and an exotic collection of aquatic and above ground vegetation, Daniel is truly an artist of the land.

His company has done installations from International Falls to Stillwater, and they also teach landscaping classes.  Daniel is a world traveler and is incredibly passionate about both traditional and new ideas concerning landscaping. The enthusiasm he has for this is contagious. Daniel finds it amazing that so many homeowners go with the tried and true “cookie cutter” method of landscaping using crushed rock and yard space. He believes that once people see the beauty and low maintenance of his designs, and gain the sense that every design is unique, they will never go back to the norm.
The water gardens are constructed by using boulders and rocks, or paving stones to create a bed where a rubber liner can be placed to hold the water. These rubber liners can be molded into any shape to fit into any size rock bed. At one end of the bed is a small pump housing where the pump resides, along with a net and filter system to catch debris and for water clarity. All the moving parts are hidden including the hose lines that run to refill the pond. As with the display at his home, many of these gardens have the capacity to hold live fish like the Japanese koi or goldfish. Many types of plant life can be accommodated in the ponds like several types of beautiful hybrid water lilies. The ponds are also designed to stay open all year round by simply inserting a heating element or aerator to keep oxygen in the water.   
Daniel has many interesting artifacts from the area in his gardens; the heritage garden holds pieces of the pioneer era placed throughout the area, While digging the garden bed, Dan and his crew found many of these items. There is also a “dry stacked” stonewall. The term “Dry stacked” means without cement or any other material to adhere the rock together. Only friction between the rock and gravity hold it together.  This wall cannot be pushed over, as its pieces are interlocked using an ancient method taught to Dan and his son at a seminar by Scotland native and Dry Stone Master Craftsman Neil Rippindale. The walls are designed to fluctuate with the extreme weather changes we endure as Northland area residents. Dan says they are always looking for new techniques and ideas any chance they get, and he believes that we have much to learn from our past. 
At the display site, there is also a Japanese styled rock “room”, which uses rock walls that traditionally are built using black anti-weed fabric that is usually placed between the rocks, as they are set into place. However in this display, the design team packed the rock settings with black dirt and vegetation that now flows beautifully from the stones. Also displayed are, exotic plants, a quirky old bathtub filled with water lilies, and fish ponds filled with the Japanese Koi fish that are sold by Wood Spirit Gardens to stock the ponds they create, and a new design using elevated fire pits that create a unique feel for marshmallow roasting on cool evening times around the campfire. 

The Northland Press has welcomed Daniel Dix as a part-time contributor to their publication, he has written stories on gardening, travel, and landscaping ideas and techniques. He also welcomes all to see his outdoor water garden display, look for the sign located just south of Backus on the east side of Highway 371, or take a virtual tour by visiting their website at www.woodspiritgardens.com

162 State Highway 371 NW   |   Backus, Minnesota 56435   |   218-947-3663   -   888-947-2414