Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Dino Boulevard Garden

Here is a fun garden profile called the "Dino Garden! Its located in my brother's Saint Paul boulevard and for 3 years, neighborhood kids make this little patch of vegetation a destination on walks. Kids and parents stop to find hidden dinosaurs and play with them, and occasionally parents even have to avoid this block because they are too engrossed in dinosaurs for time allotted. Even adults without kids pass with a smile. The complement of shade tolerant plants that my brother has included only adds to the prehistoric effect- ferns, solomon's seal, hosta, fairy candles, and sedges.

This is a great example of placemaking. As defined by Project for Public Spaces, "Placemaking is not just the act of building or fixing up a space, but a whole process that fosters the creation of vital public destinations: the kind of places where people feel a strong stake in their communities and a commitment to making things better." As demonstrated by this boulevard, placemaking does not have to only happen in public squares or municipal gateways. Positive outcomes in the case of the Dino Garden include an ever-changing community expression that adds beauty, traffic calming and community building as neighbors find reason to pause and ask questions and even investigate. Most of the Dinosaurs are still on duty after 3 seasons in the garden, not many have been lost or stolen. Compare how well this space is functioning to previous longstanding life as unnoticeable lawn.

Boulevards are of course city property and cities have restrictions on what you plant and you should take steps not to create a stormwater runoff issue. At the same time, they are a great space to be creative, improve your tree's health, and make your street more inviting. A practical boulevard garden guide from Metro Blooms can be found here.

Photo Credit: Amanda Hankerson

Friday, June 12, 2009

Emerald Ash Borer: Its Here. Plant a Tree.

Emerald Ash Borer in the Twin Cities. Sooner than expected. Actually likely been here for few years unnoticed. That fact demonstrates how hard it is to detect this non-native pest and how easily its transported. While the state holds its breath for the large expanses of native ash forest up north, there are some practical actions we Twin Citians can do now.

  • Absolutely do not transport firewood or any ash wood across county lines. Not only is there a heavy fine, but this is exactly how EAB hitchhikers make their gains.
  • Learn which trees your property are ash. Eventually, these will likely be lost to the pest. Harsh, yes. Are any of your trees really valuable to, just can't be missed? That is when to consider a pesticide treatment. Maybe. Pesticides, if chosen, will need to be applied every year for the life of the tree at the cost of$50-200 per tree (depending on the tree's size). A certified arborist can help with evaluation and application. For many of our ash trees, they really do not justify such treatment.
  • Lastly, plant a tree this year. Plant a few. You can even plant on the city-owned-boulevard area. In Saint Paul, residents are encouraged to add to and maintain the urban forest, however, a free written permit from the St. Paul Forestry Office is required by ordinance. Call (651) 632-5129 to request a Forestry Tree Permit. In Minneapolis, check through your options at Forestry's replanting pages.
More info can be found on these websites, including ID information: