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Community tends unique rock garden

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 12/03/2013 2:49 PM

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JARRETT, Minn. — The Jarrett Rock Garden was a playground for the six Diedrich children.

They would climb around the stone structures meticulously crafted years before by outdoorsman Jake Reimers. Reimers had sort of a museum on the property, Tom Diedrich recalls. He was a taxidermist who collected rocks from the rivers and bluffs around the area. He repurposed the rocks, creating sculptures that cry out for a closer look.

In addition to the rock garden in Jarrett, Reimers built a scuplture at the West Albany Catholic Church, Diedrich said.

The house on the property burned down in the late 1940s or early 1950s -- somewhere around the same time that Reimers passed away, Diedrich said.

From what Diedrich has been able to piece together, the Reimers' property next was acquired by a man from the Twin Cities area who built a cabin on the property. He helped the man plant 5,000 pine trees there.

When the man died, his son-in-law came into possession of the property. It was during this time that the devastating flood of 2010 roared through Jarrett, Zumbro Falls, Hammond and other communities along the Zumbro River.

Floodwaters tipped one of the structures over, a rather large one shaped sort of like an outdoor fireplace. The piece that tipped over during the flood was righted in 2012. It was just fine when it was stood back up, Diedrich said.

The property went into the buyout program offered after the flood and reverted to county ownership. There was a push to bulldoze the structures, with some saying they had no historical value, but the community rose up and, with the help of their county commissioner, were able to save the Jarrett Rock Garden.

The community has adopted the rock garden, mowing it in the summer and planting and tending flowers amid the structures. A Zumbro Falls greenhouse donated flowers, Diedrich said. A half-dozen people came out in spring to plant flowers.

He's taken to mowing and caring for the property because he said it would be a shame to let it grow up into weeds. It is a piece of Jarrett's history that has survived.

He marvels at the skill and time Reimers invested in the sculptures. They were put together one stone at a time using concrete to hold them in place, Diedrich said. Yet, no concrete is visible except in areas where people pried off agates.

In previous years, many graduation and wedding pictures were taken at the garden. Now, he sees people get out of their cars to take a closer look. Diedrich has watched people drive past, only to back up and get out to walk amid the rock sculptures. A lot of people think it's a cemetery, he

said.

The sculptures are varied, each allowing the viewer to interpret its meaning.

Jarrett is located between Hammond and Millville on Wabasha County Road 11.