Blog & Events

A Beautifully Sustainable Evening

Free Yourself to Enjoy Your Landscape.
Beautifully Sustainable Evening
Tuesday November 10, 6:30 to 7:30 pm
$5 per person, includes $5 merchandise coupon for the MSHS gift store. Please preregister.
Minnesota State Horticultural Society
2705 Lincoln Drive
Roseville, MN 55113

Join celebrated local landscape designer and president of EnergyScapes Douglas Owens-Pike for a book release for his new book Beautifully Sustainable. Doug’s presentation will feature gorgeous views of gardens he has designed, installed and maintained during his 25 years following ecologically sound principles. We will learn how to 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. This will be an evening helping us imagine calmer lives, while supporting other creatures who are under assault.

Native Plants on Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center (PEEC) Green Roof: 11 Years After Planting


When I designed my first extensive green roof (ie green roof with 6” or less of soil), the Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center (PEEC) in Minneapolis, in 2003 (as part of The Kestrel Design Group), I wanted to use native plants. I tried to think of the best possible native analog – ie a native plant community with growing conditions similar to those found on the green roof: high sun and wind exposure and thin soil profile. So I used the bedrock bluff prairie as a native analog. I visited bedrock bluff prairies, analyzed books on Minnesota Native Plant Communities, and analyzed plant lists of bedrock bluff prairies in Minnesota from the Minnesota DNR’s plant surveys, and chose the plants that seemed best able to handle the conditions found on bedrock bluff prairies, and hopefully also green roofs. Some people were concerned that these plants would not do well on green roofs, because they thought that plants on bedrock bluff prairies sent roots down into cracks in the bedrock, and they would not be able to do that on green roofs. Researchers and practitioners in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, and Nebraska, have since found that many prairie species spread their roots horizontally instead of vertically on green roofs.

Pope Francis Addresses Climate Change

Dear friends,
This morning Pope Francis released an unprecedented call to action on climate change, in a letter to 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.
That’s right: one the world’s most prominent moral voices just cast climate action as a moral imperative. Whether or not you’re Catholic, this is huge news, and you can help make sure it sends ripples near and far:

Live Staking for Bank Stabilization


Live Staking is a form of bank stabilization accomplished by placing the branches of a specific species such as dogwood or willow directly into the ground. When done correctly, this simple act enables the plant to take root and grow into a mature bush. This process is frequently implemented over large areas along river banks and shorelines to create bank stabilization.  The plants function by sending their roots underground and therefore securing the soil from erosion.  The woody branches and leaves above ground also slows rain fall and the over flow of rain along the soil surface, further improving stabilization and reducing erosion.

What a difference a week makes: MN Spring backsliding

You may recall basking in the warmth of 70 degrees last week.
If you were able to get outside you may have spotted this delightful native.

bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
Just yesterday, despite a chilly gusting wind and temps in 30’s, we braved a hike on trails at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, bolstered by time next to the fire in Krone Shelter.  We found a few natives that were up and prepared to burst their buds once the sun comes back.

Spring is bursting out

Leatherwood, Dirca palustris

With our warm weather following the soaking rain earlier this week, here are a couple images of some of our earliest blooming plants from near mid-April, 2015:


Leatherwood, Dirca palustris
Stature and closeup of one of our earliest blooming native shrubs, leatherwood, Dirca palustris
Leatherwood, Dirca palustris
Dirca palustris, or eastern leatherwood, is a shrub that grows to a maximum height of about three meters. It is native to the eastern half of North America but uncommon, found in rich woods, and is occasionally cultivated.

7 ways an EnergyScape can reduce your carbon footprint

Woodland Garden

The current state of environmental crisis currently sweeping states like California and Texas should have us all more aware than ever of the need to reduce our carbon footprints.  The superfluous of burning of fossil fuels and irresponsible use of freshwater resources have wrought pollution and drought, the affects of which are rippling inevitable across the our country.  Fact of the matter is, most of us don’t live in a world where it’s possible to live a zero sum carbon footprint.  We need our cars to drive to work, our power plants to power our houses, and our factory food to feed our families cheaply.  We’d like to drive a hybrid and put solar panels on our roofs and only but organics, but as the economic reality stands – not all of us can afford all that stuff.  So what can you do?  You’re not an oil company executive or the owner of a car factory or beltway lobbyist.  You even recycle.  Is there really anything else that can be done?   Yes there is.

1.  Lose the lawn, grow some nature.

The millions of acres of manicured grass lawn across this country is one of the most unnecessary, polluting, and irresponsible habits of modern American culture.  The traditional lawn as we know it or “middle class lawn” became a permanent fashion in American following World War II.  Manicured grass lawns are styled after the estates of European nobility.  When the US took the place of England as the world’s superpower, we took their neat grass lawns as well. Unlike England, however, it doesn’t rain here incessantly.  Meanwhile, the water we do waste on our lawns – either via watering or rain – becomes awash with chemical fertilizers before flowing into our storm drains.  Ever wonder why that secluded lake up north is almost crystal clear while the lakes and rivers near your house are murky with only a few inches of visibility?  It’s not the boats on the water or the traffic near by.  Its the lawns.  The nitrates and phosphates used to treat every green lawn on your block get washed into the local rivers and lakes, so now instead them fertilizing your grass they are fertilizing all the algae and lake weeds making a once clean and clear lake murky and weedy.

By reducing your lawn and in its stead planting native plants and flowers, you not only save your neighborhood from the chemical pollution of fertilizers and the noise pollution of lawn mowers, you are also adding essential habitat for endangered pollinators.
In addition to your native plants and flowers which require little to no maintenance or watering, another lawn alternative is to plant No-Mow Fescue instead of grass.  The average urban No-Mow lot can be cut in 15 minutes with an electric string trimmer as little as once or twice a year. Imagine the savings in noise pollution while slashing Carbon emissions.

 2.  Evergreen Screens
Plant an evergreen screen to NW corner of home.  This will cut winter heating costs by slowing the coldest winter winds while adding a warmer microclimate for birds and other wildlife.  During warmer times of the year, this screen will reduce your cooling costs by blocking out the setting summer sun.

3.  Deciduous Canopies.
 Plant large canopy shade trees on the southwest and southeast corners of your home.  Trim up branches of trees in the south to improve winter solar heating.  The canopy’s shade will keep your home cooler in the summer, while allowing the winter sunshine in to give warmth come winter.

No-Mow Lawn next to raingarden.

4.  Greenawnings ®
By adding “Greenawnings ®” to south facing windows to both shade and further cool the air by 10 degrees due to evaporanspiration from leaves of vines trained to cover your awning, unlike solid overhang or canopy style awnings that trap heat rising off S wall. “Greenawnings ®” are precisely crafted to maximize winter solar gain while shading summer sun.

5.   Nature’s cover.
Plant vines on trellis or a small tree to shade any A/C unit in direct sun.

6. Raingardens.
Guide rainwater runoff from your roof & drive into raingardens designed with xeriscape principles. This list of plants will tolerate both extremes of flooding and extended drought as you add the beauty and diversity of pollinator habitat.

This area used to be just a pool of water puddled in the middle of the lawn.

7.  Grow your knowledge!
Learn how to do design and build your own carbon reducing sustainable landscape by purchasing a copy of “Beautifully Sustainable”  online here or at one of the following local retailers:

Common Good Books
Terrace Horticulture Books
Egg-Plant Urban Farm Supply

Great books for gardeners

job post flyer. maint assistant

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.