Blog & Events

Great books for gardeners

A recent article by Meleah Maynard in the Southwest Journal’s Home Guide features reviews and recommendations for some good reading in preparation for the coming gardening season.  One the top of the list is Beautifully Sustainable:  Freeing yourself to enjoy your landscape by EnergyScapes founder Douglas Owens-Pike.

Spring Talks & Events


March 17 & 18      2:30 pm to 3:30 pm U of MN Shade Tree Short Course at Bethel University
                         “Xeriscaping for our changing Midwest Climate” presented by Douglas Owens-Pike.
links for more info:
 March 19           7:00 pm to 8:00 pm at  Henderson public library, 110 S 6th St., Henderson, MN 56044
“Beautifully Sustainable: Freeing yourself to enjoy your landscape” – presented by author Douglas Owens-Pike
 April 8    6:30 – 8:00 pm  Eagan Garden Club: “Native Plants and Attracting Pollinators to Our Landscape” –  3830 Pilot Knob Road, Eagan, MN
Join celebrated local landscape designer and president of EnergyScapes Douglas Owens-Pike for an evening of conversation centered around his new book, Beautifully Sustainable. Doug’s presentation will feature gorgeous views of gardens he has designed, installed and maintained over his 25 years following ecologically sound principles. We will learn how modify our own landscape to succeed with the least care. Doug will explain why it is critical to move away from traditional horticultural varieties to be able to attract a greater diversity of birds, butterflies and other increasingly rare pollinators. While it may seem our world is overwhelmed with strife and turmoil this will be an evening helping us imagine calmer lives, while supporting other creatures who are under assault.

Traditional and Green Skills Day – March 7th

For all you sustainability enthusiasts out there, come on over to the Fifth Annual Tradional & Green Skills Day! 
Saturday March 7th
8:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Prairie Farm High School,
630 River Ave. S., Prairie Farm WI 54762
Our own Douglas Owens-Pike will be holding a presentation on xeriscaping – how to reduce or eliminate the need to irrigate your lawn or garden (1:00-1:45 in the English Room).

Not all milkweed varieties will necessarily help the Monarchs

Considering the dire state of the world’s Monarch butterfly population, it is more important than ever to invoke affective practices to halt the demise of these essential pollinators. Planting milkweed to feed the Monarch’s is one of the best things a gardener can do to nurture the Monarchs, but be sure that the milkweed you are plating is native milkweed and not tropical as the tropical milkweed variety is, though considered medicinal, is actually highly toxic to migrating monarchs.   A recent article published by the organization Monarch Joint Venture questions and answers relating to the issue.
There was a question presented in the article, which asks if gardeners are responsible for the situation with the Monarchs. It clearly explains that they are not at fault for the continuing planting of tropical milkweed that is affecting them. Previously, there was no knowledge of what kind of effects it would have on local monarchs. However, in recent years it was discovered that the “winter-breeding behaviors that it enables” results in spores built up in the plant, affecting the butterflies. Furthermore, the lack of availability of native milkweed has forced gardeners to use the tropical milkweed instead, increasing its number across the south.
Gardeners and monarchs enthusiasts have provided important data about the relation between the milkweed and the butterfly. Their contribution has deepened the understanding of the Monarch butterfly and its habitat. Now gardeners can start to integrate native milkweed and replacing the tropical specie to support healthy habitat for the Monarchs.
Here is a list of resources given in the article to have a better understanding about this topic:
o Xerces’ Milkweed Seed Finder:
o Monarch Watch Milkweed Market:
o Milkweed: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide (Xerces):
o Tropical milkweed fact sheet (Monarch Joint Venture):
o Native milkweed fact sheet (Monarch Joint Venture) (*examples of native milkweed by region):

Raised Garden Bed Ideas from

Raising Expectations
A Guide To Building Raised Gardening Beds

You may have heard people talking about having raised beds, but really — what are they? How tall does a bed have to be in order to qualify as a raised bed? What are the benefits? Do you have to have raised beds for your vegetables? Are they difficult or pricey to construct?
Better Soil, Better Drainage, Better Back
Raised beds are great for gardeners who have poor soil (rocky, clay or sandy). By building beds above your soil surface and filling them with higher quality soil, you’re giving your vegetables a better environment to thrive and produce. Also, if you are a gardener with mobility issues, you will find gardening with raised beds to be much easier than gardening at ground level.

Photo of the Week

The Prairie Ecologist
Chris Helzer

Who could be mad at these big beautiful brown eyes?
As it turns out, lots of people can.
The differential grasshopper is one of a long list of native North American species, headlined by white-tailed deer and raccoons, that have adapted very well to today’s agricultural landscapes.  Whether you call these species adaptable generalists or pests probably depends upon whether or not they’re eating your sweet corn.  Regardless, you have to admire (or at least recognize) the traits that allowed them to thrive under changing habitat conditions that have pushed many other native species to the brink of extinction.