Garden #20.5

My friend Elaine, who wrote a lovely profile of CPP in the Southside Pride, lives in the Longfellow neighborhood and has been working on her own pollinator garden.

I stopped by with some extra plants after Amy’s installation. Elaine has a shady garden with a lot of Virginia waterleaf. She donated a bunch for our next installations. She also has a whole bunch of asters thriving in her lawn, which surprised me because most asters are pretty tall when left alone. Perhaps more people should consider asters as another pollinator-friendly turf alternative.

Garden #18

Mark’s house, which is next door to Nykol’s house (where we planted a couple weeks prior). Continuous pollinator gardens! We planted over a spot where a tree had been removed, which meant extra soil to find a home for. Mark’s neighbor stopped by with Joe Pye plants to add.


Summer roundup: gardens #12 and 13, soil study launch, the maps! And more…


Corcoran Pollinator Project has had kind of a slow-burn summer this year due in part to three of our core team members, including me, being wrapped up in fieldwork and other travels much of the season. However, we did manage to put in two gardens so far, we have a full garden installation roster coming up, and we have some cool collaborations in the works.


In June Liz, Ellie, and I worked on adding native pollinator plants to Ellie’s garden (above). In return we received tons of Ellie’s native violets to share with other gardens.

In July, Kassie Brown of Renaissance Soil came to Corcoran to take soil samples of yards and gardens for a pilot study on the relationship between above-ground and below-ground biodiversity. Do native perennial gardens improve soil health? Stay tuned!


The soil study is the first step in a larger project to map soil health and biodiversity across the neighborhood. We hope this data can be added to the neighborhood garden biodiversity maps we started last year, which, speaking of, are ready for viewing:

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 1.51.15 PM

Here’s a screen shot. These maps are based on a survey of about 1,000 front yards in Corcoran and show the number of species in people’s gardens, whether or not they have native species, and whether they have room to add a pollinator garden. The idea is to be able to more easily visualize habitat density and connectivity in the neighborhood and to see where we can most usefully target our installations in the future. These maps wouldn’t exist without the expertise and generous help of University of Minnesota spatial data analyst and geographer Melinda Kernik–thanks Melinda!

If you want to play around with the map layers, check out the map app here. (Click on the layers icon in the upper left hand corner).

Speaking of people we are grateful to, many thanks to Elaine Klaassen of the Southside Pride for writing this lovely profile of the project, which appeared in last month’s Southside Pride edition.

Finally, here are some photos of our most recent garden installation at Kate’s house:

Thanks to generous plant providers Cynthia, Kevin, Deb, Leanna, and Ellie, we were able to plant 15 species including liatris, showy goldenrod, echinacea, heliopsis, columbine, bee balm, swamp milkweed, and a native sedge. Kate’s boulevard was already partially cleared because she was fixing up an empty spot left by a tree removal. There was a lot of extra soil built up–I saved some to use experimentally in seed starting for next year.

That is the bulk of the news from the summer. A couple other tidbits of note–we hosted Terry’s talk about getting started gardening with native plants at the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization office in August–I forgot to take pictures, but we might host a repeat later in the fall. We have streamlined our garden request and volunteer sign-up processes. And, we have seven more installations planned for September and early October.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s participated in the project this year! Happy gardening!




spring things!

So far this spring the CPP team has been laying the groundwork for another season of urban habitat creation.

Sixteen species of native perennials planted last winter by Terry, Anne, and Daphne are up!



Gardens we planted last season are looking pretty good! Hannah and I did a check up on eight of the gardens and found that most of the plants came back and in most gardens weeds are still suppressed. Our mini-nurseries are having mixed success.


We got some donations! Local landscape architect and CPP volunteer Leanna Sweetland gave plants including echinacea, liatris, and Joe Pye weed, along with one million pots for starting more plants.



We did some outreach at the Midtown Farmers Market!


Coming up: The unveiling of the neighborhood biodiversity maps! A permaculture group is growing plants for us! A zine of Minneapolis weeds! Our first garden installation of the season is in one week!



This past week we started miniature nurseries in five neighbors’ yards to get a head start on seedlings for next year’s gardens.

Hannah donated part of her vegetable garden. We planted zigzag goldenrod, foxglove beardtongue penstemon, golden alexanders, Canada milkvetch, and wild quinine.

Cynthia had a perfect spot in her yard where she had already killed the grass in order to install a patio next year. We planted Canada milkvetch, Joe Pye weed, wild quinine, silky aster, butterfly weed, one of the blazing star species, and the penstemon.

Daphne has a great seed starting set-up and a shadier garden, so we planted some shade-liking plants including cardinal flower, wild leek, big leaf aster, penstemon, and zigzag goldenrod, plus meadow blazing star, butterfly weed, and amsonia.



Kim volunteered a section of her garden for pots of plants including Culver’s root and echinacea.


While I was planting seeds at Kim’s, Anne happened to walk by and mentioned that her son, who lives next door, had a patch of dead grass from some roofing materials that had been left on his lawn. She offered the patch as a seed-starting spot. It’s right next to the pollinator garden we planted there in July! It has now been seeded with plants including two kinds of milkweed, stiff goldenrod, and leadplant. Thanks, Anne and son!



Neither I nor any of the mini-nursery hosts had started perennials from seed before, so it will be exciting to see which plants do well. All of the seed we used was gathered from gardens in the neighborhood. Many seeds came from Julia’s garden, and Cynthia and Terry also contributed seeds.

One thing that helped our seeding efforts was having taken a field trip to Terry’s lab to clean and count them. Terry, our neighborhood’s resident botanist, has a massive garden experiment underway in his backyard and needed to know how many seeds of each plant he was working with, so we used the lab’s sieves and scale to separate seeds from chaff, then used published values to estimate our seed numbers, which ranged from 110 (Amsonia tabernaemontana) to 20,145 (Penstemon digitalis). Terry donated his extras to CPP–thanks, Terry!

garden #11

On October 15 we had our last garden installation of the season at April and Simon’s.


Simon had already prepared the site, and April had plants ready to go, so it was mostly a matter of popping them in and eating banana muffins.


April and Simon’s yard is somewhat shady, so we used a lot of shade-loving and shade tolerant plants including cardinal flower, meadow rue, columbine, harebell, bishop’s cap, big-leaved aster, penstemon, and alum root.