Native Landscaping Demonstration Garden
The City of Hopkins, with grant funding from the Nine Mile Creek Watershed, has created a demonstration garden in Valley Park to show the environmental benefits of pollinator-friendly native landscaping. The garden features native grasses, flowers and fescue grass (also called eco-grass).
At the garden, residents and visitors can sit on benches to relax, or explore the garden and learn how to use native plants in their yards.
Indigenous Plants of Valley Park
Valley Park’s pre-settlement ecosystem mainly consisted of wet prairie marsh and oak savanna. Native grasses and flowers such as big and little bluestem, switch grass, Indian grass, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, asters, golden alexanders and coneflowers were part of these ecosystems.
The City of Hopkins seeks to restore habitat by returning nature’s beauty through native plantings. The City would like to recognize the ecological and historical value of Minnesota’s native plants.
Uses of Indigenous Plants
Indigenous people used several species of native plants for medicinal purposes and herbal teas. For example, Pearly Everlastings were used as poultices to treat soreness and smoked to treat colds. Purple coneflowers were used for treating pains in toothaches, wounds and sores. Joe-pye weeds were made into teas to help flush out kidney, bladder and gallstones.
You can learn more about the different types of native plants and their uses by exploring the links listed in the “Resources” section to the right.
Benefits of Native Plants
Growing native plants offers many advantages. Not only are they beautiful and durable for landscaping projects, they also provide several environmental benefits. Planting native grasses and flowers improves water quality, protects groundwater resources, helps reduce air pollution and provides for wildlife habitat.
Protects Groundwater Resources
Native plants do not need fertilizer and use fewer pesticides. By not utilizing either, our water resources can stay protected from pollution. Native plants seldom need watering and are often drought resistant.
By requiring less water than a typical turf grass lawn, residents who choose to plant native glasses and flowers help conserve groundwater and save on water bills. The deep roots of native plants hold soil together and prevent erosion by helping water soak into the ground and slowing down the flow of surface runoff.
Having native plants in lawns contributes to less pollution in local waterways and can overall increase the health of nearby streams because the deep root systems help filter dirty water, reducing groundwater contamination and pollution in our watershed.
Reduces Air Pollution
In addition to preventing water pollution and saving on water costs, native plants often do not require mowing after plants are established. This reduces the need for lawnmowers, leading to better air quality due to reduced emissions from gas-powered tools.
Provides for Wildlife
Native plants also provide food and shelter for wildlife. Nectar and seeds from these plants attract butterflies, moths, bees and birds while supporting their lifecycles.
Moth and butterfly larvae feed on native grasses and as adults, they can feed on nearby pollinator plant nectar. Minnesota’s butterflies and moths play a significant part in the ecosystem by helping bees and hummingbirds spread pollen while being a crucial part of the food chain for other insects and animals to feed on.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Native Plants Database
- St. Olaf College, Natural Lands - Dakota and Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants (PDF)
- Indiana Native Plant Society - Growing Native Plants from Seed
- Prairie Moon Nursery - How to Prep Your Site for a Native Seed Mix
- Prairie Moon Nursery - Germination Codes & Instructions (PDF)
- Prairie Nursery - Seed Stratification Guide