We’d argue that every month of the year is a beautiful time to visit a Minneapolis park, but there’s something unmistakable about the warm, colorful days of summer that highlights their abundant plant and animal diversity. While most parks are open year-round, there are certain aspects, like many gardens, that only blossom seasonally.
As we begin to approach the final weeks of summer, we’d like to share our love and appreciation for the variety of gardens that span the park system. While there are upwards of 15 – ranging from rose gardens, to rock gardens, to bird sanctuaries (plus four additional community gardens) – we chose a few to highlight from various corners of the city. Here are six Minneapolis park gardens to visit before summer’s end.
#1. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
Located in Theodore Wirth Regional Park, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is a favorite of many. In early 1907 Eloise Butler, John Greer, and others petitioned for and were granted from the park board, space in the then-Glenwood Park to establish this botanical garden, the first public wildflower garden in the United States. The garden is home to more than 500 plant species and 130 bird species, and receives an average of 60,000 visitors each year. From mid- to late-summer this garden boasts an abundance of asters, sunflowers, blazing stars, and goldenrods, among much more.
#2. Loring Park Garden of the Seasons
Loring Park Garden of the Seasons is located within Loring Park, just North of the Loring Pond footbridge. It is also connected to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden via the Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge. The Garden of the Seasons is divided into three rings, each with its own distinct collection of various native plants, trees, and wildflowers.
#3. Lyndale Park Peace Garden
The Lyndale Park Peace Garden is one of five distinct gardens within the greater Lyndale Park. The Peace Garden, originally named the Rock Garden for its light-colored, irregularly-shaped rocks, creates a perfect micro-climate for alpine plants and dwarf conifers. The Peace Garden features some beautiful elements, such as the Peace Garden Bridge which highlights decorative copper blocks and inlaid Minnesota granite, or the Pathway to Peace, which is a series of seven stone sculptures each displaying words that represent the community’s feelings about the meaning of peace.
#4. Longfellow Gardens
Longfellow Gardens is located just west of Minnehaha Park, on Minnehaha Parkway. Interestingly, the Garden rests on a land bridge, which crosses over Minnesota State Highway 55, connecting Minnehaha Creek and Regional Park above the busy thoroughfare. Longfellow Gardens, in total, cover an area of over 13 acres and host a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. The beautiful array and diversity of flowers within this garden is due to the fact that it is re-imagined and designed each year to replace annuals from the previous season. To read more about the specific species at the Longfellow Gardens, check out our blog post, 8 Pollinator Friendly Plants at Longfellow Gardens.
#5. Nokomis Naturescape Garden
Located on the Northeast shore of Lake Nokomis, the Naturescape Garden offers a 4-acre garden is a certified Monarch Waystation and the site of the annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival (due to Covid-19 there have been adjustments to the festival this year). Follow the Minneapolis Monarch Festival on Facebook for the latest updates. The Nokomis Naturescape Garden was created in 1999, in part, to restore native vegetation to parkland, and it now features native grasses and wildflowers.
#6. JD Rivers Children’s Garden
Also located in Theodore Wirth Regional Park, just north of Glenwood Avenue in the Eastern edge of the park sits JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden, a 1-acre garden featuring plots for fruit and vegetable production. Garden staff work with local youth programs or youth-serving agencies to provide garden plots and weekly programs focused on gardening skills, harvesting produce, healthy eating, and exploring the surrounding natural areas.
With Covid-19 restrictions, some of these gardens have modified visiting hours and increased regulations for social distancing. Please check the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board links that we have attached to each location above for the most up to date information. Additionally, a full list of all the park gardens can be found here. Enjoy!
Featured Image: Lyndale Park Peace Garden, Courtesy of MPRB