Water Works is coming to life. After months of working with tons of inert materials, August and now September has seen green – and gold, purple, and even pink – emerge within the project. This is thanks to Jean Garbarini and her team at Damon Farber Landscape Architecture, who are responsible for the park’s abundant plantings, all chosen with care.
“The site is going to be very popular – with potentially millions of visits every year. All of our trees and plants had to be highly durable and easy to maintain,” explains Jean, whose team adapted their planting plan to a range of other, sometimes changing, conditions. “We almost have a series of micro-climates that were dictated by the site’s steep slope, the location of buildings and pathways, and the amount of water and sun each area will get.”
Trees & Shrubs
There are 13 species of native trees on the Water Works site, anchored by the old Cottonwood in the General Mills Plaza, which is estimated to be well over 100 years old. Along West River Parkway, there are new Hackberry saplings and, coming soon Lindens will be planted in the swale near the South Plaza. Continuing up the South Plaza to First Street are White Pines for winter interest. Cedar is also planted along First Street, serving as a screen for the upper terrace; it’s location outside the restaurant is also convenient for The Sioux Chef, who will use cuttings from them for their world-famous Cedar Tea. Other tree and shrub varieties that are being planted include Swamp White Oak, River Birch, Sugar Maple, Serviceberry, and Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle.
Grasses & Perennials
Fans of native grasses and perennials will find a lot to capture their interest interspersed among the trees and shrubs. Golden Alexanders will be prevalent along the Parkway, and Switch Grass and Little Bluestem Grass are already waving gracefully throughout the site, softening the edges of the hardscape. Many of the beds are planted with local favorites like Prairie Onion, Sky Blue Aster, Wild Columbine, Wild Geranium, and many more.
At the northern end of the site is the Children’s garden, where a mulch walk has been left clear so that visitors big and small can step into the garden to explore. “We chose plants for the Children’s garden that would have some sensory intrigue, because of their smell or feel,” says Jean. Here, you’ll be able to look for Common Yarrow, American Spikenard, Common Milkweed, Blue Wild Indigo, Purple Prairie Clover, and Prairie Smoke, to name a few.
These plantings were embedded in four different specialized soils, selected for their drainage and nutrient characteristics. Thanks to Doug Verdier for these photos of soil delivery and installation in August.