Spring Dreaming

It’s amazing how much a child can grow between one summer and the next. As I watched my son scramble effortlessly to the top of a ridge at Wisconsin Interstate State Park, I wondered when he stopped needing my help to climb boulders and when his cherub arms grew so strong. I wondered again as I crouched to pick up a candy bar wrapper beneath a dogwood in my yard. When did this shrub grow so tall? Didn’t I plant it just before Charlie was born?

Green patches are appearing!
It’s officially spring in Minnesota!

In the drippy, misty March, spring dreaming has officially begun. Already there are buds on the trees and bulbs unfurling from underground. So much change has already happened before we even noticed. Now, we gaze out at our yards, visible once again, and quietly begin planning.  It’s almost gardening time.

On Saturday, March 26, Master Gardeners in Washington County will hold a spring gardening program at Stillwater Area High School, 8am-noon. During this free workshop, participants will learn about sustainable gardening, landscape design, and landscaping with native plants. From 8:45-9:45am, Master Gardener Kristin Tooze will talk about design principals, including how to maintain a healthy lawn and how to incorporate shrubs and perennials into your landscape. From 10-11am, Extension Educator Kathy Zuzek will talk about Earth-Kind® gardening and Earth-Kind® plant trials around the United States. Kathy will share her expertise about trees and shrubs, as well as suggestions for well-adapted, low maintenance landscape shrubs that perform well in the Upper Midwest. The final presenter, Hannah Texler, will speak from 11:15am-12:15pm about the benefits of gardening with native plants. Hannah has worked as a plant ecologist with the Minnesota DNR for 30 years and has many beautiful images to share of native gardens, including her own. In addition to these speakers, there will be information at the workshop about free site visits, grants, and other assistance available through the Washington Conservation District and area watershed districts for wildlife and water friendly landscaping projects. The event is free and no pre-registration is required.

Learn how to plan your landscape to include places for recreation,  as well as natural habitat and colorful blooms.
Learn how to plan your landscape to include places for recreation, as well as natural habitat and colorful blooms.

Two weeks later, on April 7, the East Metro Water Resource Education Program will collaborate with Master Gardeners to hold a landscape design workshop at the Lake Elmo Library from 6-8pm. During the workshop, we’ll be focusing on smaller, residential yards and helping homeowners to sketch out locations for gardens, natural plantings, recreation and play. We’ll talk about special types of gardens you might want to include in your landscape – vegetable gardens, raingardens, fairy gardens, and butterfly gardens – as well as how to manage drainage and erosion issues and how to create pockets of habitat for pollinators, birds and wildlife. Additional landscape design workshops will be held on April 26 in Cottage Grove and May 4 in Forest Lake (focusing on smaller residential yards), as well as on April 27 in Scandia and May 10 in Denmark Twp. (focusing on larger rural properties). To register for one of these free workshops, visit http://tinyurl.com/2016LandscapeWorkshops.