Why are dirt and wine in this headline? Ask Flint Group’s Valerie Gordon.


An accountant at Flint Communications, Valerie Gordon keeps us accountable by walking around the office to make sure we’re not on Facebook looking at pictures of our neighbor’s cat.


Just kidding. About the drill sergeant part, not the accountant part. What she REALLY does is manage billing at our Fargo office, which includes making sure timesheets, expense reports and media orders are complete. She also coordinates the media buy billing for all of Flint Group. Yeah, big time stuff.

Away from the number crunching, Val lives the good life on Big Cormorant Lake in Detroit Lakes, MN. On nights and weekends, you’ll find her gardening or wine tasting with friends and family.

Gardening in her roots

Val grew up with nine siblings on a farm in Walhalla, N.D., right on the Canadian border. In fact, her backyard was the Pembina Gorge, North Dakota’s largest uninterrupted block of woodlands that’s home to more than a third of the state’s total flora.

“Growing up, gardening was really all around me,” said Val.

Her mom had a large vegetable garden and was an expert canner. Val spent her Saturday afternoons at her aunt’s greenhouse, watching her and helping plant and water flowers. Best of all, she saw how, with a little TLC, she could help them grow.

Playing in the dirt

Today, Val has an extensive garden of her own. She likes to plant flowers and plants most people have never heard of, so she does research to find new species. Visit Val’s garden today, and you’ll find castor beans, hyacinth beans, Joe-Pye weed, stargazer lily, miniature climbing roses, and a variety of tomato plants and herbs.

Val's garden

“My gardening inspiration comes from the feeling self-satisfaction and from everyone admiring the different plants and ideas I put together,” said Val.

For example, when her dad passed away, she sprayed his work boots with polyurethane, filled them with flowers and displayed them in her garden.

Val's dad's workboots in garden

Rhubarb–not just for eating anymore

In addition to gardening, Val also likes to make garden and yard ornaments. Check out this tiki torch she made out of recycled wine bottles:

Tiki torch lawn ornament

Her latest endeavor is rhubarb birdbaths.

“Rhubarb birdbaths?” you ask? Yeah, I did too.

They’re really quite simple, says Val. “All you need is a leaf from a rhubarb, a pile of sand, plastic, concrete mix, and wallah! You have a bath for birds.”

Rhubarb birdbath 2

This mini bath is for butterflies:

Butterfly bath

She teaches a class on making these sand-cast birdbaths at the Northern Plains Botanic Garden, where she also volunteers with fundraising and weekly gardening classes.

Val teaching class on rhubarb baths

Val teaching class on rhubarb baths 2

Val’s favorite part about gardening is enjoying the fruits (er, plants?) of her labor, especially watching the birds revel in the baths she’s made. “I like with the orioles come to bask, enjoy their jelly and sing in the trees – it’s nature at its best.”

Sipping the sweet stuff

If you’re ever in downtown Fargo, be sure to stop by the Old Broadway, Val’s favorite wine-tasting venue. In the summer, you’ll find her sipping New Age White Wine on ice with a slice of lime. In the winter, she’s apt to choose from a variety of red wines, depending on her mood.

She also belongs to a wine club, consisting of friends who meet at each other’s houses to try new wines paired with complementary food. For Val, it’s a great way to unwind and enjoy good conversation with people she cares about.

“Living at the lake, I have a great view of sunsets–perfect for relaxing with a nice glass of wine after playing in the dirt,” said Val.

sunset 1

Sunset with wine

Gardening and wine with a lake view? I don’t know about you, but I’m in.

Get to know a Flintster: Q + A with Val!

What’s your dream job?

Wine connoisseur.

What was your first job?

Besides working on the farm? Soldering coil cables for the telephone company.

What did it teach you?

If you work hard and produce good numbers, you’ll be rewarded.

What is one thing you’d be willing to practice for an hour a day?

Tai chi moves. Whoa, watch out Jackie Chan.

What’s the best advice you ever got?

Be confident and honest.

What sound do you love?

The quiet breeze over the lake and birds singing.

What scent do you love?

Bread baking and, of course, a good glass of red wine.

Ericka Olin

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