The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 10, 2013

Master Gardeners hosting open house events Saturdays throughout summer

Master Gardeners hosting 'Smiling Saturdays' open house events at Glenwood Gardens

By Diane DeWitte, U of MN Extension Educator
Blue Earth County

---- — Many folks in Mankato are aware that the Minnesota River Valley Master Gardeners have established a teaching garden near the bottom of Glenwood Avenue along the walking path.

Folks may not be as aware that area Master Gardeners will be hosting their "Smiling Saturdays" from 9-11 a.m. on Saturdays through July and August. The events serve as a sort of open house where visitors can find Master Gardeners who will discuss the gardens in more detail or answer homeowner landscape and garden questions.

The garden exists in cooperation with the City of Mankato, and the city has been instrumental in keeping the grounds manicured, planting trees as needed, and most recently, putting in a concrete pad and a picnic table.

The Master Gardeners planned the beds and installed them in 2009. And, like any gardening project at home, the Glenwood Garden beds have evolved each year.

Each of the four raised beds has a different theme. The largest bed contains trees, shrubs and more than 10 different ground covers. The smaller three beds are the perennial bed, the butterfly garden, and the bed of ornamental grasses and herbs.

In the perennial bed, visitors will find a variety of hardy plants which have very few disease problems. The perennials all bloom at some time, and when they are not blooming, they offer garden interest with interesting foliage which is attractive all season.

The butterfly garden is stocked with native plants which host both the caterpillar stage of the insects and the butterflies themselves. Most of the plants in this bed are perennials, but some are self-seeding annuals. They grow together in groups of dense vegetation which are very attractive to butterflies. These are the native plants of earlier centuries in Minnesota.

The fourth garden has undergone some renovation since last season. Many of the grasses in the bed did not survive last winter. With some transplanting of grasses from the Victory Drive rain garden and the generosity of a Master Gardener who specializes in grasses, the southern two-thirds of the grass bed have been repopulated. The Master Gardeners decided to add a small herb garden to the northern one-third of that bed to allow for visitors to get an idea of herbs which would grow well in the home garden.

Visitors to Glenwood Gardens will also notice the addition of some large young trees in the area. These are memorial trees which have been donated and installed after the passing of special Master Gardeners. In addition, large, readable identification tags have been added to the plants in the raised beds. This allows visitors to learn exactly what plant is there.