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The Nokomis Naturescape


The Naturscape's restored oak savanna in November, 2006
  The Naturscape's restored oak savanna (Larger image)

Before 1850, the uplands of what is now Minneapolis were covered with prairie grasses, wildflowers, and scattered oak trees. This oak savanna plant community has become very rare, with only 1/10th of 1% of Minnesota’s original savanna remaining. The Nokomis Naturescape project – a 4-acre native planting – brings back a glimpse of this ecosystem and provides urban residents with a model of sustainable landscaping.

The Naturescape is an official Monarch Waystation and National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat site located on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis at 50th St. and Nokomis Parkway and is part of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board system.

The Naturscape's northeast hillside plantings in full summer bloom.
The Naturscape's northeast hillside plantings in late summer bloom. (Larger image)  

In the spring of 1998, the steep hillside southeast of the Nokomis Community Center was planted with grasses and wildflowers, and three perennial gardens, using only plants native to this area, were installed adjacent to Lake Nokomis. The demonstration prairie gardens intend to provide an aesthetically appealing example of natural landscaping techniques using native plants in a managed context. The gardens add a variety of colors and textures to the park throughout the season while creating habitat for songbirds, beneficial insects and butterflies.

In 2001, the lakescape plan was made more complete with the addition of a naturalized shoreline which includes aquatic, wet prairie, and upland native vegetation. In September 2004, a native shrub garden was planted alongside the hillside prairie garden. The shrubs chosen are particularly beneficial for native songbirds.

The Nokomis Naturescape project was funded by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (with funding from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program), Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, and Department of Natural Resources grants.


Monarch butterfly on native common milkweed at the Naturescape
  Monarch butterfly on butterfly weed, a native milkweed, at the Naturescape .(Larger image)

Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. Native plants work well for many landscaping and wildlife plantings, because once established, they need less watering, mulching, protection from frost or continuous mowing.

Native plants provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. In contrast, many common horticultural plants do not produce nectar and often require insect pest control to survive. Many native grasses and wildflowers protect soil with their deep and spreading root systems, helping to prevent erosion. Areas with diverse perennial native plantings have less water runoff than ground covers of non-native species such as bluegrass.



"Encouraging People to Connect with Nature by Growing Native Plant Gardens"

Gardeners meet Tuesday evenings from May – September, 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

Choose your level of commit-ment -- from occasional helper, to adopting a section of a garden.

The Wild Ones Twin Cities- a native plant landscaping group - are the principle volunteers for the hillside garden. The Twin Cities Audubon Stewardship Committee and area residents are also among the volunteers.

Gardening by the lakeside is an enjoyable time spent with people sharing your interest. We welcome all help to keep our garden a native plant showcase, inspiring park patrons to go native in their own yards and to see the beautiful liveliness of natural habitats.

For more information or to volunteer, call the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association at 612/724-5256.

Growing Monarch Habitat and the Monarch Garden-To-Go

The Nokomis Naturescape gardeners created the Growing Monarch Habitat project to connect monarch conservation to the importance of native plant habitat.

A native plant Garden-to-Go kit will next be available for purchase in the Spring of 2013.

The kit will contain a garden template, monarch habitat requirement information, and a selection of plants in 3.5” pots, with the choice of a dry-medium soil selection or a medium-wet soil selection.

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