Updated: Aug 8
Master Gardener volunteers help a popular park in White Bear Lake expand its native prairie
Lakewood Hills Park is a popular place in the city of White Bear Lake known for its diverse utilization for the community. The park has soccer fields, disc golf, playgrounds, a pond overlook, baseball fields, and a pavilion all connected by dirt or paved paths.
One thing commonly overlooked in the park, however, are the ecosystems within it—forest stands are located on the northeast side of the park with prairies on the southwest.
White Bear Lake’s city workers recognized how important native prairies are within their parks and teamed up with Master Gardener volunteers from Ramsey County to expand what they already had in the park. Turf areas were removed and a small site was prepared for Minnesota native prairie plants. The location of the new prairie is off a dirt path that loops around the park in the upper area. A bigger, more established, prairie is located further down and there are plans to connect the two in the future.
Native plants that represent Minnesota's remnant prairies were identified for the planting site and were strategically selected to ensure that at least two flowers were in bloom throughout the spring, summer, and fall to ensure that the prairie is able to support local pollinators all season long. The plants include butterfly weed, purple prairie clover, rattlesnake master, big bluestem, blanket flower, rough blazing star, hoary vervain, and prairie alumroot. The design of the space is less formal than many traditional gardens but it is arranged so that flowers that bloom at the same time are spaced opposite of each other for functional and aesthetic reasons.
Master Gardener volunteers came together this summer and planted 136 native plant plugs. As seasons pass, volunteers will maintain the site to help the plants establish in their new home. There are plans to share details about the prairie project with the public with signs.
Looking ahead, Master Gardener volunteers will actively be a part of the expansion of the prairie in Lakewood Hills Park with the hopes that it can connect to the already established prairie and removing the turf grass that doesn’t benefit any pollinators or wildlife.
This project is a great display of a municipal city partnering with volunteer programs that are willing to put in the time to beautify and create a healthier ecosystem within government maintained parks.
Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteer
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