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Highland Park Pavilion Garden

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Mentor Team 10 adopts a public garden space at Highland Park

Since the beginning of this year, Mentor Team #10 – otherwise known as the Garden Buds – has held monthly meetings, sharing stories and concerns, and supporting one another through the Core Course and the first of the volunteer activities. There was something missing, though. Something that is only possible through meeting face-to-face and working together. When members on the RCMG Board suggested trying to create a Mentor Team project, our group jumped on the idea. We began looking around for a project that would fill our void.

Empty garden beds ready for planting
Highland Park Pavilion North Garden Beds

The Project

Several of our members live in the Highland Park area, so that was a natural place to start. A couple of the interns noticed that the Highland Park Pavilion, a St. Paul-owned structure in a lovely park and used a lot by the community for events from business outings to family gatherings to parties and weddings, was surrounded by what had once been gardens but were now patches of dirt with weeds with a few hostas adding greenery. They brought the suggestion back to the group and we planned our first outing.

It’s so great to meet you in person!

Masked and appropriately distanced, we met at the Pavilion. The first words out of everyone’s mouth were, “It’s so great to meet you in person!” We studied the garden space together and were joined by a member of the St. Paul Park and Recreation department.

Our group decided to adopt two gardens on the north side of the building. Beyond clearing the weeds and installing an appealing collection of plants, our goal is to educate the public about good choices for gardening in a challenging site and being good stewards of the environment. As the COVID-19 safety restrictions from the University began to lift, we got to work. Two of the interns created a landscape plan for the spaces. One of our talented members created the video which you can access here or watch below. Everyone pitched in to plant in June and continues to help with maintenance and watering, which has been difficult with the recent excessive heat and drought conditions.

This whole project gave us just what we were needing – a chance to get to know each other and feel part of a group of friends while contributing something meaningful to the neighborhood. We also earned hours! That’s just what Master Gardeners is all about.

The City has been a wonderful partner throughout this endeavor, supplying us with plants and helping us access the facility for water. We couldn't do this without them!

Mentor team 10 installs donated plants.
Planting day

The Challenges

The garden bed has not seen much care in recent years. There were many weeds and, likely, significantly more weed seeds in the soil. The soil has not been amended and may have nutritional deficiencies. The bed is in a public space and needs to survive encounters with passer-by non-gardeners. The bed is on the north side of a building and receives little to no direct sunlight. Access to water is somewhat constrained because the hose faucet is inside an often-locked building.

Plant Selection

Sign example describes growing conditions for Wild Bergamot (also known as Horsemint)
Sign example

Because of the challenges of the site, we used fairly indestructible plants provided to us by the Park & Rec department.

  • Purple prairie clover

  • Side oats gamma

  • Narrow-leaf coneflower

  • Obedient plant

  • Culver's root

  • Monarda (bee balm)

  • New England aster

  • Liatris (blazing star)

  • Hosta

Group 10 members

Mentors: Susan Cathey, Susan Mitchell, Katherine Tane

2020 Interns: Chris Beal, Jenna Strank

2021 Interns: Kirstin Beal, Lindsey Foley, Paula St. John, Sue Stein


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