Midtown Ecoyard : sustainable garden guided tour

Transit to Green Space is an ongoing exploration of ways to reach our parks and natural areas without cars.


When: July 9, 2011

How: Mostly bike

How long: N/A. This is an in-town green space, and people mostly came from fairly close

Ease: Very easy. The Ecoyard is located in the heart of the cities, a block north of the busy intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha Ave. near 3 major non car transportation routes: the #55 LRT line (running North – South), the #21 high frequency bus route (running East – West) and the Midtown Greenway bike/pedestrian trail (running East – West).

Worth Doing: The Ecoyard is well worth it for anyone wanting a quick tour of an area overflowing with native plants. It is small, about one short block in length and maybe 75′ in width at its widest. This makes it an easy place to visit for many in the cities between errands or as you head to other destinations while biking or using transit. It’s easy to combine seeing the garden with a trip to other parks. By bike it’s possible to reach Minnehaha Park using the Greenway and striped lanes on Minnehaha Ave., or via light rail and the 46th st. or 52nd st. stations. Heading West, the Minneapolis lakes are also accessible using the Greenway or the #21 bus. So there are lots of possible combinations.

Our appreciation of the garden was much enhanced by our guide, Gregg Thompson, a sustainable landscaper now working for the city of Eagan. Gregg helped establish the garden in 2006, and knows the plants well. Butterfly weed, purple cone flower, hyssop and monarda were some of the plants in bloom when we visited. We also observed non flowering plants like the drought tolerant and low-mow fescue grass (kentucky bluegrass alternative in some applications), and sweet grass, growing in a swale which captures water. Gregg explained that sweet grass exudes a perfume when dried, a custom of  native Americans who used it in their ceremonies. Some of us grabbed a handful; mine is smelling sweet already, even though not dry.

There are many more plants than these in this small garden, so I’m hoping others can comment and add varieties, plus the critters (like the black swallowtail butterfly) they are host to.

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