wrapping up 2020

This year, despite everything, our extended CPP community did an amazing job getting thousands of native plants in the ground, making a home for wild nature in the city and building connections with each other. Here are some pics highlighting our hopeful moments in a very tough year.

  1. We grew 100 species of native plants from seed, took care of them all summer, and made them into garden kits.

2. More than 50 neighbors in Corcoran, Phillips, and beyond adopted these kits–totaling about 6,000 plants!–and used them to create new pollinator gardens, or to expand existing pollinator gardens.

3. We also partnered with Metro Blooms and CNO on a Lawns to Legumes demonstration neighborhood grant, which provided professionally-designed pollinator gardens along with native trees and shrubs to 30 residents of Corcoran and Phillips. The grant included funds for a brand new pollinator garden tool library (including a sod cutter!) housed in CNO that will be available starting in 2021.

4. In a freaky coincidence, towards the end of the summer we found a nest of endangered rusty patched bumblebees in the steps of Daniel’s new house. This is one of only a few rusty patched nests ever found in MN. UMN Bee Lab scientists were able to observe the nest to gain crucial conservation knowledge about the species.

5. By November it was time to mix up a batch of potting soil to start seeds for next year. We’re using space at Squash Blossom Farm to start the seeds once again.

6. For 2021 we’re focusing on short-statured and early-blooming species, as well some interesting trees and shrubs like prairie wild rose, bladdernut, and wafer ash (seeds pictured above). We got lots of seed from Prairie Moon using L2L grant funds, and we also collected some seed from mature gardens we’ve planted in the last few years, from the demonstration gardens at the Bee Lab, and from seed collecting days with The Prairie Enthusiasts.

As I write this, these seeds are starting their journey to becoming beautiful plants that will feed and shelter our insect buddies and provide all manner of quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits to our lives. We can look forward to lots more planting soon.

xo SN

Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) on meadow blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis). (Thanks to Elaine Evans for bee ID)

CPP summer 2020 update

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CPP is composed of friends and neighbors who care about the world and want to contribute to the flourishing of life in our corner of south Minneapolis. We had been ramping up for a huge gardening season this year, but of course we’ve found our priorities shifting and our capacity to think about gardening limited in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, which occurred just a mile from Corcoran neighborhood. We have been plugging into many different community efforts and thinking and talking about how this group can contribute to environmental justice in the short and long term.

This year we are partnering with Metro Blooms and Corcoran Neighborhood Organization to offer pollinator garden installation help and plants in Phillips neighborhood in addition to Corcoran. We’ll be creating a pollinator tool library at the CNO community garden so that anyone can install their own garden, and will be offering free workshops with professional designers to everyone in the neighborhood. Folks who live in Phillips or Corcoran can sign up here. This expanded set of offerings is enabled by the Lawns to Legumes neighborhood demonstration grant which we received this year in parnership with Metro Blooms and CNO.

In the meantime, the thousands of plants that we planted this winter continue to grow.

 

We are growing lots of exciting prairie and woodland species, including quite a few plants that are listed as threatened or of special concern in Minnesota, including rattlesnake master, wild petunia, muskingum sedge, Illinois bundlefloweryellow pimpernel, and wild quinine.

seed starting!

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Last weekend, 14 of us convened at Squash Blossom Farm to start about 7,000 native plants that we will use to create new pollinator gardens next summer.

First we filled the trays with a mix of compost, pine fines, pearlite, and vermiculite.

Then we added seeds. We mapped out eight different tray designs for different environmental conditions (sunny/shady and wet/medium/dry), with 10 species in each 50-cell tray. This will let us have a ready-to-plant “garden” in each tray. Some of the seeds are seeds we collected in the neighborhood and some are seeds we bought from Prairie Moon Nursery.

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We put the filled trays outside to stratify for the winter. We will bring them back into the greenhouse in the early spring to give the plants a little head start to hopefully grow big enough to transplant by June.

Thanks so much to everyone who came! And to Laura G. for boss soil mixing and photo-taking and Susan W. and Roger N. for donating the space and making us lunch!

garden #33

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This past Saturday an intergenerational team dug up a chunk of Angel and Joel’s boulevard and installed 18 species of prairie plants, including some of the more unusual plants that we grew from seed this winter like the super-showy large-flowered beardtongue, (Penstemon grandiflorus) and some great St. Johnswort (Hypericum pyramidatum) that we received from our friend and neighbor Bill B. These two species are unrelated, but both have opposite, pointy leaves and large, pointy seed pods and can look similar to each other when not in flower. The St. Johnswort typically likes moister soil than the beardtongue, but since it’s hard to tell which plants will thrive in a boulevard, we’ve erred on the side of trying lots of stuff and seeing what happens.

 

garden #32

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On Saturday we resumed garden installations with an install at David’s house.

We planted 18 species including some of the plants we started from seed this winter, plus Bee Lab donations and some large anise hyssop and false sunflower donated by local nursery Pollinator Works (thanks, PW!).

Our fall season actually began last Wednesday with a tour of all the gardens we’ve planted in the last three years, organized in collaboration with our local Wild Ones chapter. Here’s a picture of garden superheros Ben and Jeanell and kiddos, who helped with the tour and volunteered their backyard to house lots of plants for CPP. (Nice shirts, right?)

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Thanks everyone who organized, hosted, and attended the tour!

garden #31

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On July 9 we had our largest (and steepest!) installation to date at Charlie’s house, which has an un-mowable hill of a front yard that we planted to become a native wildflower meadow. The timing for this large installation was great since we’re taking a break for the rest of July but had a lot of plants that needed to get in the ground, including native grasses, asters, milkweeds, bee balms, and sunflowers.

A mighty crew of 10 people knocked out the whole install in 2 hours. As we wrapped up, a huge bumble bee auspiciously buzzed through to check things out. We’ll have some goodies here next year, bee!

garden #30

On July 3 we planted a shady garden under the canopy of Carla and Joe’s huge elm tree. We used a mix of plants including wild ginger, violets, blood root, black cohosh, large-leaved aster, and sweet Joe Pye weed (many thanks to plant suppliers Ellie, Julia, and Bob). We’ve got one more garden to go next week and then will pause for a few weeks to avoid the July heat!