Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Kate Crowley
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Going Nature's Way

 


Sometimes in this column, I write about topics that are global in scope, sometimes they are regional, and sometimes they are much closer to home. This month I am focusing on a very local subject and one that is timely, inspiring, and now very personal. I am going to talk about gardening – specifically the plantings and gardens that line the business district and other parts of Moose Lake.

It was in the 1980s that the City Council, looking for ways to make the city more attractive, decided to designate part of the annual budget for the design and implementation of tree and flower plantings on the boulevards of the city.

The first person to assume the role of City Gardener was Bonnie Makin. She got the ball rolling and planted many of the trees and raised beds you see as you drive down Arrowhead Lane. She was joined by Linda Eckert as her Assistant. Through their efforts the image of the city began to blossom; pun intended.

In 2013, Clarissa Ellis-Prudhomme took over from Bonnie and has been working hard ever since to maintain, as well as improve and expand, the overall beauty of these plantings. Clarissa is a certified Master Gardener and loves having the opportunity to put her knowledge and skills to use in such a satisfying position. She is highly organized and has a creative streak that allows her to imagine combinations of flowers, shrubs and trees that complement one another. I have known Clarissa for over 30 years, since we both worked at the Audubon Center. Now, I am happy to call her ‘boss’, as I have started working as the part-time Assistant Gardener in the summer months. This is a job that gives me great satisfaction at the end of a day’s work when I can clearly see the results of our labor.

I have been so inspired and impressed by the beauty of these plantings over the last few years that I have written letters to the editor of this paper to express my appreciation to the city for being strong supporters of the enhancement of public spaces. I also want to thank all the residents of Moose Lake whose tax dollars make these gardens and trees possible. The money for the materials and staff comes from the Public Works budget. The guys who work in that department also deserve thanks since they assist with many projects that require more equipment or materials like wood chips.

Moose Lake is part of Tree City USA - a program through the Arbor Day Foundation. In order to maintain that status, the city must plant trees or provide educational programs. Clarissa has done both. Two years ago she gave a program to the After School students and the kids helped her plant trees in one area and more plants in the Butterfly Garden. A Girl Scout group last year assisted with planting a Cathedral Elm and two Dogwood shrubs in front of Grimm’s Auto Body Shop.

As you walk or drive around town you may see a sampling of the trees that have been added to the cities arboreal roster - Hackberry, Sugar Maple cross, Ironwood, Blue Beech, Northern Pin Oak, Burr Oak, Paper Birch, and Elms on—what else—Elm Avenue. These were planted early in the project, and it appears their roots are starting to impact the sidewalk around them. They may require replacement sometime in the future.

A DNR Grant provided money to the city for the planting of trees. Bonnie was involved with Phase 1 and Clarissa with Phase II. If you are driving or walking down Arrowhead Lane this summer you may see some small trees that appear to be growing out of a green plastic bag. These are young trees getting a 20 gallon drink of water in a nice slow drip.

The beautiful plantings and trees are not just providing residents with pleasure and pride. They are making an impression on people who are just passing through on their way to another destination. Mayor Ted Shaw told me that the city regularly gets calls or messages from people who have gone to the trouble to look up the contact information so they could express admiration and appreciation for the displays. All the great, major cities of the world are known for their public gardens. There are very few towns in Minnesota, the size of Moose Lake that can boast the same degree of commitment to beautification of their streets.

You will see Clarissa and me throughout the summer weeding, watering, trimming, and planting when needed. Stop and say hi. Or let the mayor or city administrator know that you appreciate the gardens. Whatever you do, take time to observe and enjoy every stage of growth and development in the gardens and in the barrel plantings throughout the coming months.

 

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