Wayne’s Hobby Garden

We look for what adds dimension and a bit of passion to an ordinary day. Wayne Nelson-Stastny says his vegetable and ornamental gardening hobby adds to his mind, body, and spirit.

The way he chooses to garden, he is involved in it most of the year. His plans for the garden include seeds from many cultures. He combines his garden interests with a quest for taste and flavor as he cooks for his family. His garden methods include fundamentals and creative visual displays of plants as they grow and produce flowers or other ornamentation and vegetables.

The public had a chance to enjoy his unique garden spaces in the Missouri Valley Master Gardener yard and garden tour this summer. His craftsmanship was displayed right away in his garden entrance. The wren in the birdhouse gourd announced all visitors and has since fledged.


The bamboo pole leaned against a fence is a simple example of the many vining plant supports in his garden. For space and visual display, variable vertical heights are prominent in his garden. His heirloom tomatoes are held in place by 2” x2” wood tripod topiaries and reinforced concrete wire cylinders. A re-purposed corn crib supports sugar snap peas and then runner beans and gourds in succession.


Burgundy amaranth and zinnias add spots of color and draw pollinators to the garden.


Job’s Tears is a corn-like millet ornamental that can be grown for the grains it produces. Beads, such as rosary beads, can be fashioned from the grains that appear about where corn tassels would form. Wayne and his children crafted a Job’s Tears Rosary for his mother.


Gurney Seed and Nursery Company, formerly of Yankton, employed hundreds of seasonal workers each year and is a shared gardening connection for many of the region.

 “I think about the origin of things,” said Wayne Nelson-Stastny of Yankton. “I grew up on a farm north of Wagner, South Dakota, looking through seed catalogs. We always had a big garden and my grandparents lived a quarter-mile away. Grandma gardened and canned next door. Gardening was a part of my childhood.”

“Gurney Seed and Nursery was a sixty-mile drive. We’d go in the store on the creaky wooden floor and smell popcorn and see all the seed packets on the wall. The seed packets weren’t fancy. There were so many. They covered the walls. Some kids might look at a Sears and Roebuck catalog and go to the toy section. I got to go where they’re making the toys!” he said.

“At the counter, they’d have the one-cent variety seed packets for kids that I got to grow. I’d have my row in the garden, though I helped Mom. The packet had several kinds of seeds. I’d see what came up,” Wayne said.

If you’d like to find out more about how his hobby started and grew, please go to this Yankton Press & Dakotan newspaper link where the article first appeared.


Thanks for visiting Plant Exchange Blog where we highlight plants that grow in this USDA 4 – 5a region and the many talented gardeners who grow them.


3 thoughts on “Wayne’s Hobby Garden

  1. Oh, the seed catalogues! They do bring back memories, even though I did not see many when I was a kid. We lived near town, so could get all sorts of seed from a nearby hardware store. Catalogues were more for ornamental plants, such as bachelor button. The bare root rose catalogue was how I learned about hybrid tea roses, which are still my favorite.

  2. Back in the 80’s we grew lots of Job’s Tears, strung them over the winter and sold them at craft fairs. I really liked Wayne’s garden and would have enjoyed more photos. We didn’t get seed catalogs when I was young, but I’m making up for it now!!!

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