Community Voices

Welcome to March. It’s not winter, and it’s not spring. It’s tournament, tax, spring break and spring training time. The noises I hear coming from the environment signal an early spring could march us right into April. The sights and sounds of the resident cardinal high up in the evergreen tree, a family of squirrels racing through the yard and the occasional fox seeking out her next meal bring exhilaration when I discover them in the yard and neighborhood.

When the sun, soil and moisture collaborate to bring spring, it’s as if all is awoken anew. Working with my hands in the dirt of the garden reduces stress and anxiety brought about by everyday events and local and global news. I have a few friends who, like me, watch spring unfold with hope and confidence for the next growing season. We met through the Sweet Sioux Garden Club chapter of the Federated Garden Clubs of Minnesota, and as spring edges closer I asked them to share their garden plans for 2020.

Member Kim Turner of Savage said she wants her garden pots to entice butterflies, bees, and especially hummingbirds for beauty and practicality. Turner isn’t the only gardener on the bee-friendly bandwagon. As essential pollinators, Minnesota’s bees are critical to food production for humans and wildlife.

The Star Tribune recently reported Minnesota’s Board of Water and Soil Resources will select 500 homeowners from more than 6,000 applications to receive funding under a trial program that will pay residents up to $350 to plant pollinator gardens or convert their traditional grass lawns to more bee-friendly yards. It’s nice to see passion and resources for restoring the bee population in Minnesota.

Carol Oeltjenbruns is Sweet Sioux’s chapter president and a Burnsville resident. She said what comes to mind right away is whether the hostas will come back after being chewed up by the deer last season and if the deer will come back or move on.

And like many gardeners, past president Pat Almsted says she’ll be lucky to keep up with her weeding in her Burnsville garden. She said she wants to remove the landscape fabric that she reluctantly got talked into when she had another garden bed installed years ago. The soil is compacted underneath, and the weeds are harder to remove. She’s going to focus more on native plants and getting rid of more lawn to have less to mow and provide a better bee/butterfly friendly habitat.

Stinging nettle has spread aggressively in my backyard of woods and native shade perennials in Savage. My garden goal for 2020 is to plant Joe Pye weed and knock out the nettles. (If you are intrigued by Joe Pye weed, there’s a great crop of this plant outside Savage City Hall.) As I’ve shared in this column before, I also need to keep tackling any new signs of buckthorn, a Minnesota noxious weed/tree.

While it’s March and roughly two months away from planting/transplanting outdoors in USDA’s Hardiness Zone 4, planning for the garden’s promise of renewed life can be a satisfying exercise for anyone who loves to garden. It’s time for spring’s bloom.

Jessica Lamker is a regular contributor who has lived in Savage for more than 20 years.