Flower gardens are popping up in Shakopee this spring, and it has nothing to do with April showers. A small group of botanically minded locals has started an adopt-a-pop-up garden program, and they are recruiting.
The idea for the group began in 2017. According to one of the group’s founders, Corky Mars, the inspiration came from a desire to make Shakopee unique. Mars and co-founders Deb Amundson and Jody Brennan laid out a plan to beautify certain public spaces which lacked landscaping, at no cost to the city.
“We were trying to find scruffy areas of land and try to make them more beautiful,” Brennan said.
The group got the OK from the city council on a proposal for a pilot garden in Huber Park that year. The public works and parks departments helped them identify places in Shakopee with gardening potential.
Brennan, a city council member, knows Mars and Amundson from their shared engagement in the community. Amundson is on the utilities commission board and Mars, who is married to Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars, works for the city of Minneapolis in waste and recycling. The trio bring a variety of experience not only in gardening but in working with the city and the parks department.
The test garden in Huber Park began with mostly perennials, plants that live long and come back yearly, with the intention of keeping maintenance to a minimum. Establishing the garden is the majority of the work.
“You have to make an investment of time the first year,” Amundson said.
Once established, gardens with perennial plants require less upkeep. Amundson, Brennan and Mars did add a few annuals to their first garden, however, “to add some color,” Mars said.
Since the project is all self-funded and costs the city nothing, the group is happy to customize the gardens as much or as little as desired. Adopters purchase their own plants or get them from friends and neighbors pruning their gardens at home.
“My mother’s garden is overgrown with seedum,” Amundson said. “I just dig it up.”
As the group looks toward recruiting more gardeners, they’re eager to grant creative license to those who adopt plots. The sizes and styles of gardens can vary.
“It’s what you want to do with your commitment,” Mars said.
“Part of why we took the time at Huber Park,” Amundson explained, “was that we got to experience starting with a bare piece of property and come back the second year to see if that worked and gather helpful hints.”
Lynn Schemel, a group member since 2017, said they laid down cardboard as a base to be covered with soil to avoid potentially problematic digging.
The group hopes to engage enough community members to be able to assign two or three people to each garden space. Teams will be able to split costs and take ownership of their adopted plot, focusing on its improvement and maintenance in coming seasons.
Mars and her daughter plan to create signage crediting the garden adopters in completed gardens.
Last year the group did not add another garden but instead added to the current garden spaces and got them fully established.
“This year, we want to branch out and get more people involved,” Amundson said. “It’s a great way for young people or people who have just moved into the community to meet new friends.”
Garden adoption requirements are minimal. Gardeners select a location, submit a design plan to the committee and agree to maintain the space for at least two years. The committee hopes by ensuring follow-through they will maintain a good relationship with city officials. Currently available monument locations include signage by the ice arena, the 17th Avenue sports complex and Lions Park.
This year, new members Heather Spence, Michelle Pitschneider and Don McNeil will adopt a plot at Riverside Fields Park. They will present their design proposal at the group’s next meeting May 8, which will be open to the public. Any interested community members are welcome to join the meeting.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the group through its Facebook page Shakopee Adopt a Pop Up Flower Garden.