Plant-a-palooza coming up!

Volunteer planting events, prairie bison release, plant sales, and nature activities

Throughout the month of April, gray clouds hung over Minnesota, casting shadows on the landscape, as well as our collective mood. Then suddenly, as if someone had flicked a giant light switch in the sky, the sun appeared, the flowers began to bloom, and the song of birds filled the air. For our family, that meant that it was time to play baseball, paddle a canoe, go fishing, ride our bikes, walk along the river, and clear out the garden…on Tuesday.

The rain is over and gone, And the winter is passing by, The time for singing has come,
And the clouds have parted from the sky. Arise, my love, and come away, For lo! the winter is past.

From The Rain Is Over And Gone (text from Song of Solomon and Paul Halley)
The long awaited spring has finally arrived, full of flowers and green leaves.

The next few weeks will offer numerous opportunities to enjoy all things plant-related, including two volunteer planting events, a bison release, two native plant sales, and two family nature events.

If you’re itching to dig in the dirt and have a passion for restoring ecosystems, consider signing up for a volunteer planting event in Marine on St. Croix (Sat., May 21, 9-11am) or at Lake Elmo Park Reserve (Sat., May 21, 10am-2pm). Volunteers in Marine will be weeding and planting native species along the Maple Street Channel and Mill Stream, which is part of a larger stormwater reduction project that the city and Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District recently completed. The planting party at Lake Elmo Park Reserve is led by Pollinator Friendly Alliance and includes lunch. Volunteers will be planting 2400 native wildflowers.

Volunteers in Marine on St. Croix helped to plant a wetland as part of a restoration project in 2021. the planting work continues this year.

Perhaps, however, you’re more interested in planting gardens at your home? If so, check out the Washington County Master Gardener Plant Sale (Sun., May 22, 11am-3pm at the Washington County Fairgrounds) or Landscape Revival (Sat., June 4, 9am-noon at the Oakdale Fire Station). The Master Gardener sale will include a wide array of annuals and perennials, native and prairie plants, monarch and pollinator plants, grasses, shade plants, heirloom tomatoes, and herbs and vegetables, as well as a diagnostic clinic. The Landscape Revival is hosted by St. Paul Audubon Society and will feature eight native plant growers, in addition to info tables staffed by local conservation groups.

Choose from a wide array of plants at affordable prices during the Washington County Master Gardener Sale on May 22.

As much fun as it is to plant plants, it is also fun to play in the plants – especially if you’re a bison. On Saturday, May 21, Belwin Conservancy will host its annual Bison Release from 10am-2pm in Afton. Experience a spring day on the prairie, filled with fun activities for all ages including the release of the 2022 Bison Herd from NorthStar Bison, live music, interactive eco-arts, prairie activities, native plant sales at the event tent, and food trucks.

Bison run off the truck and into the prairie at Belwin Conservancy in Afton. Photo from Belwin.

On Saturday, June 4, families can choose from two fun nature events – WaterFest at Lake Phalen (11am-4pm in St. Paul) or Family Nature Day at Sunfish Lake Park (9am-1pm in Lake Elmo). WaterFest activities include Voyageur canoe and sailboat rides; paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks for checkout; fishing lessons and a fishing contest with prizes; water games, climbing walls, a jump castle, arts and crafts, face painting and lawn games; a Water Bar featuring water flights from our communities; the Passport Odyssey; performers; and food trucks. Family Nature Day events at Sunfish Lake Park include hiking and info about beekeeping, mammals, birds, raingardens, mountain biking, herbal medicine, geology, prairies, pollinators, buckthorn, water quality, and mosquito control. Both events are free.

Find more info about all events listed above at