The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 21, 2013

More than a tree

New tree additions at Glenwood Gardens teach, inspire -- and remember

Diane DeWitte Blue Earth County Extension Educator
The Mankato Free Press

---- — You may have noticed more activity at the Glenwood Gardens lately.

Located on Glenwood Avenue at Locust Street, just southeast of downtown Mankato, the Gardens were developed in conjunction with the City of Mankato as a University of Minnesota Extension teaching-garden site. If you stop at the Gardens this week, you’ll see a vibrant butterfly garden, a lush clematis attracting hundreds of pollinators, and an impressive collection of native perennials swaying in the breeze.

You will also notice that the grove has grown, too. Thanks to tree donations by the Minnesota River Valley Extension Master Gardeners and other private citizens, visitors can now view a range of new specimens.

It began when the Master Gardeners lost a dear member in 2011. Kim Busse loved flowers and trees, and her work within the Extension’s Master Gardeners program was an important part of her life. Friends of Kim’s wished to commemorate her dedication to the program, and set about finding a tree for the Gardens.

Ashley Steevens of Mankato’s Division of Parks and Forestry assisted the Master Gardeners in securing a Ginkgo biloba for the Gardens, and had it installed. Steevens worked with Joe Koberoski, tree spade contractor with the City of Mankato, to locate the 10-year-old tree and have it planted. Koberoski’s equipment brought the tree with all of its roots in 1,000 pounds of its home soil. The Ginkgo flourished. Its tall, columnar shape and interesting, fan-shaped leaves are attractive, and the tree is hardy in all conditions and very urban-tolerant.

Recently, in memory of Judge James Mason, friends of Jim’s wished to commemorate his life with a special tree planting at Glenwood Gardens. They requested a specific tree, and again, Steevens put out the request to Koberoski to locate an Ohio Buckeye. The Buckeye is hardy for Minnesota, and adds beautiful fall color and wildlife food. It will grow into a showy, medium–sized tree with yellow flowers in spring which later deliver masses of the iconic buckeye seeds loved by squirrels.

Steevens requires that the trees planted in Mankato’s public landscapes are Minnesota-grown. She explained that a red maple can grow here and can grow in Missouri, but the seedstock from Missouri would have a tough time surviving Minnesota’s climate. For that reason, the tree contractor has to search his network of Minnesota tree growers to locate the desired specimen.

In mid-March 2013, the Master Gardeners lost another long-time member, Gordon Herbst. Gordon had been a faithful member of the local group, but had also become a Certified Tree Care Advisor, a friend of the Minneopa State Park Prairie, and was a terrific resource when it came to answering tree questions. One of his favorite trees was the unusual Amur cork.

The Master Gardeners again asked Ashley to secure a specific memorial tree. This time, it wasn’t quite as simple. Koberoski searched for some time before locating the tree from Jim Schmidt at Creative Landscape, Inc. Amazingly, the tree was quietly growing at Schmidt’s place in nearby Eagle Lake. The Amur cork tree will mature into a medium-sized tree with a short trunk and broad crown. Its bark is deeply furrowed and it is tolerant to many sites.

Last week, on a beautiful mild sunny day, a small group of Master Gardeners gathered for the official planting of both new memorial trees, the Ohio Buckeye and the Amur Cork tree. Hardy in Minnesota, yet uncommon in the home landscape, these two trees can give Glenwood Gardens visitors a taste of beautiful choices available. Each tree is 10-13 years old, and by being installed with all of its roots present in an enormous ball of soil, will adjust to the move easily. Steevens installed rubber water bladders at the base of the trees to provide gentle watering for the first few weeks in their new home.

Glenwood Gardens n University of Minnesota Extension teaching garden n Located on Glenwood Avenue at Locust Street n Open houses with Master Gardeners continue 9-11 a.m. on Saturdays throughout August