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Paynesville Press - August 3, 2005

Semi-retired farmer to exhibit flowers at show

By Michael Jacobson

This weekend, the 50th annual flower show will be held at Grace United Methodist Church. With the theme, "Down Memory Lane," the flower show is meant to celebrate God's beautiful flowers.

Les Snyder, a 38-year member at Grace and longtime exhibiter, agrees that flowers are God's handiwork. "We can only do so much," he said, "but the Lord has to do the rest."

The public can see the beauty of the flowers on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 1 to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, Aug. 7, from 8 to 11 a.m. Admission is free. Grace United Methodist Church is located at 500 River Street (Highway 23) in Paynesville.

synder with flowers "I've always enjoyed flowers, and our church has had this flower show for as many years as I can remember," said Snyder. "I think I've taken flowers there for 30 years."

He always goes to the flower show to see what ribbons he has won and to check out all the entries. "I just like to see all the beautiful flowers," he explained.

Les Snyder got his love of gardening from his father and grows hundreds of flowers on his farm north of Paynesville. He has exhibited at the flower show at Grace United Methodist Church for over 30 years.

Snyder - who bought his farm in 1949 along Co. Rd. 16 north of town, just a few miles from the farm where he grew up - got his passion for flowers from his father, who loved gardening, he said.

When Les bought his farm in 1949, he started flower gardening shortly thereafter. Because the farmstead was "so close to the road," the flowers were a nice decoration, explained Snyder.

"So many people comment about it, too," said Snyder. "Do you live in that place with all the flowers?" he said he gets asked frequently.

Snyder planted 450 gladiola bulbs this spring, plus marigolds, snap dragons, petunias, and geraniums. He also planted 20 rose bushes this spring and tried double petunias. His favorite flowers are petunias, marigolds, and snap dragons.

He plants his gladiolus to time them to bloom for the flower show at Grace and for Salem Fest, also held in August, where flowers are used to decorate the church. He plants gladiolus in all the colors and enters as many as he can in the flower show. He's had pretty good success with gladiolus by not planting them as deep as recommended (to compensate for the cold, wet spring weather he plants them only a couple inches deep instead of four or five), he said.

flower garden Last year was cool and damp, great for the flowers, said Snyder, who never had to use his garden hose. "This year's a different story," he explained. "You have to water them, or they don't last."

Among Les Snyder's flower gardens at his farm on Co. Rd. 16 are these beds by sections of white picket fence and a small windmill.

Snyder has a circular bed by his house (with tulip beds that bloom in spring, and which he then replants with annuals in between the tulips); a couple planters on the porch and a few by the house; a few beds on the other side of the sheds, also facing the road by a white fence and windmill; a couple rows of flowers in his vegetable garden; and more gladiolus in a garden by his wheatfield.

Describing himself as semi-retired since selling his milk cows in 1986, he still farms 160 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat plus works part time. He also has a vegetable garden with strawberries, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, pumpkins, squash, gourds, and watermelons.

Snyder actually grows fewer flowers these days than in the past. When his son Dan, who also really liked flower gardening, was in high school, they had twice as many flowers as now, said Snyder. His wife Ruby also used to help with the gardening but hasn't the last few years on account of her bad knees.

The flower show is sponsored by the Women of Grace United Methodist Church and the Paynesville Area Garden Club.

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