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!
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!
Yesterday we planted sunny garden strips along the sidewalk leading up to Casey and Danny’s house. It was uncomfortably hot out, but we had another great turnout of eight volunteers, so were able to get these gardens installed at lightning speed, i.e. ~1.5 hours.
Casey and Danny had already planted a few things (including the adorable silky aster!) toward the sidewalk, and our crew added (possibly way too many) additional plants to fill the area to the street. We have a few more gardens scheduled over the next couple weeks, then will pause for a chunk of July in order to minimize stress and overheating.
We had an awesome group of eight people come out to plant a shady garden at Blake’s house tonight. We had so much labor power that we had to essentially make two gardens, one on the boulevard and one on this cool retaining wall section/plant stage part of Blake’s yard.
We planted graceful sedge, sweet Joe Pye Weed, Canada violet and anemone, wild geranium, zig zag goldenrod, mayapple, big leaf aster, early figwort, bloodroot, jewelweed, wild ginger, large-flowered bellwort, woodland strawberry, and black cohosh. Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), while not technically a native plant in Minnesota, is native to several states just south of us–close enough that, given climate change and the fact that it is threatened in some places due to overharvest in the wild (info here), I don’t have a problem using it in a native garden. It’s in the same genus as our native Actaeas, red baneberry (Actaea rubra) and doll’s eyes (Actaea pachypoda).
Many thanks to our shady plant donors and garden inspirations, Julia Vanatta and Bob Bergad!
After the install a segment of the crew walked a few blocks to the ice cream stand and noticed this black swallowtail caterpillar on a golden alexanders plant in Kate’s CPP garden that we planted last year. Yayyyy!!! Here is a cool post about how even though black swallowtails have adapted to nonnative plants like parsley and dill, golden alexanders is one of their original native host plants. Very heartening to see our gardens being put to use by the creatures we are making them for!
On Thursday we went over to Randy’s house to plant a garden in his boulevard, but we had so many plants and people that we were able to also plant one at Sue and Judy’s house next door (with their permission!).
Randy, Sue, and Judy live right across the street from two yards where we planted gardens last year, just up the street from another, and just down the street from our friend Kathy who’s donated dozens of plants from her amazing native garden. That makes a total of 5 new CPP-installed gardens plus one CPP donor garden all on the same block so far!
It was so fun to see some of the neighbors we gardened with last year and to check up on their gardens. The plants we planted last year will probably take another year to really fill out, but they have mostly survived and are looking pretty good! Can’t wait to see this block in a few years!
On Thursday we planted a large garden at Sarah and Lucas’s. The boulevard on their street is quite wide, so we were able to put in plenty of plants (donated by the Bee Lab). We also scored a ton of mulch from Bratt Tree Company, which has a free mulch pile in the neighborhood (thanks, Bratt!).
The species for this garden are similar to our last few gardens, lots of things like New England aster, penstemon, butterfly weed, showy goldenrod, ox eye, June grass, and hoary vervain, all species that thrive in full sun. We’ll need to source some shade-loving plants soon for upcoming gardens in shady boulevards.
On June 10 we replaced Judy’s entire boulevard with native prairie plants. This is extra cool because now Judy doesn’t have to haul her lawnmower down to the sidewalk level to mow the boulevard. Many thanks to the University of Minnesota Bee Lab for a large donation of plants that’s enabling us to plant more and larger gardens this year!
And thanks to Judy for sharing her awesome homemade grape juice and wine! A very refined end to an evening of gardening.
Yesterday evening we planted side-by-side gardens in the boulevards of next door neighbors Ethan and James. We had a great turnout of 10 people, plenty of plants donated by Sara B. and Hannah R. as well as the UMN Bee Lab, great snacks and drinks prepared by our hosts, and a beautiful evening.
These gardens got a mix of 18 species of native perennials, including spiderwort, boneset, coreopsis, blanket flower, culver’s root, echinacea, yarrow, side oats grama, butterfly weed, swamp milkweed, june grass, sky blue aster, new england aster, sneezeweed, grass-leaved goldenrod, heart-leaved alexanders, and figwort. We have a good stock of plants right now and are going to try to install a bunch more gardens this June before the weather gets too hot!
This weekend 12 of us got together to plant about 500 pots’ worth of native perennial seeds.
We bought seeds of about 50 species from Prairie Moon, and funded our seed purchase via a modified CSA model: members could cover the cost of a pack of seeds ($2.50) of a plant they’d like for their garden. When the plants grow, they’ll get some seedlings, but the rest will be planted into new pollinator gardens. While in the past we’ve relied on native plants already growing in the neighborhood to start new gardens, buying these seeds will allow us to add some uncommon species, increasing the biodiversity of the neighborhood. Some of the cool new species we are trying out include prairie sundrops, wild licorice, goats rue, New Jersey tea, fringed loosestrife, yellow pimpernel, blue grama, and mad-dog skullcap.
We used a mixture of potting soil and soil we removed from a boulevard during an installation last summer. Most native plants need to stratify in the cold for a period of time in order to germinate. We put the pots out in a backyard garden so that they can naturally stratify and hopefully reward us with hundreds of cool new plants in the spring.
On October 8 we had our last and biggest installation of the year at Shoni’s house, with ten people in attendance, including three cool kids, and hot chocolate. Woohoo! Good job, everyone! See you next year!