In the Yard

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

Mild-Mannered Garden Blogger Outraged

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: August 11, 2014 - 1:05 PM

I'm so angry I can't see straight. It's Friday evening and I just drove by Lake Calhoun and couldn't believe what I saw. Or what I didn't see. The path edge between the walking trail and the shore have been mowed clean. It is horrifically tidy. All those native plants that so much wildlife depended upon for insects, nectar, larval food, seeds, nesting sites and shelter have been destroyed in one fell, or should I say, one fool swoop. 

I walk along that trail four to five times a week. I know the birds, the bugs, the flowers that live beside it. I love how the water, the weather, the skyline, the flora and fauna are never the same two days in a row. I love this walk so much I take a daily photograph of its ever changing beauty and post it with a big "Good morning Minneapolis!" for all to see.

During these summer months I especially love to photograph the native plants flowering with the city skyline in the background. I always felt so proud that the city, the park board had encouraged and let flourish all these incredibly important plants. What happened? Why did these plants suddenly become a problem to be mowed? Right when they were finally flowering?

The only problem plant I've seen is a patch of invasive purple loosestrife and it is growing in the water not on the path sides. 

Thanks to this ridiculous action you won't be bothered by any native plants like bee balm buzzing with bumblebees, gray-head coneflower all aflutter with butterflies or the common, but oh so crucial, milkweed that caterpillars munch before turning into majestic Monarch butterflies. And those are just the showy, more noticeable nectar and host plants that all important pollinators need to live and reproduce. The path edges were a mosaic of diverse plant life; grasses, flowers, legumes, etc., that have been eradicated in so many other places. And now they are shorn like a sheep here along our lake. 

The vast array of birds that live and reproduce along that tiny, vital strip of land, well, without all the insects to eat, the birds go elsewhere. And once more wildlife is pushed out.

So take a good look at these photos, they can't be duplicated this year. Neither can all the creatures that depended upon that habitat. If you are outraged like me, please contact the Minneapolis Parks and Rec at 612-230-6400 and info@minneapolisparks.org and let them know.

native plants along Lake Calhoun

native plants along Lake Calhoun

native plants along Lake Calhoun

Monarda fistulosa, wild bergamot. Recognized by pollination ecologists as having special value to native bees. Also beloved by honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies.

native plants along Lake calhoun

native plants along Lake calhoun

native plants along Lake calhoun

Ratibida pinnata, grayhead coneflower. Recognized by pollination ecologists for having special value to native bees. Also important to birds and butterflies as a food source.

Milkweed growing along Lake Calhoun

Asclepias syriaca, common milkweed. There are many varieties of milkweed but they are the only larval food source for Monarch butterflies. No milkweed, no monarchs! It is also recognized by pollination ecologists for special value to honeybees, native bees and bumble bees.

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