Connecting to the Words “Grow. Bloom. Inspire!”

Board member Norman Greenberg talks about Metro Blooms: I was looking for an organization that would allow me to give back locally and also follow a longtime passion, gardening. The current board chair of Metro Blooms was an acquaintance and asked me to consider Metro Blooms. I looked at the website and felt an immediate…  Read More

Why This Board Member Supports Metro Blooms

I developed a passion for ecology and restoration work in college. The first time I walked in an expanse of prairie changed how I saw the world around me. I learned how native landscapes are at the base of all life since they build soil, filter water and provide habitat for all critters. Since moving…  Read More

A Couple That Serves Our Board Together

(photo: Garden nurtured by board members Randy and Bridget Rau) On the Community of Gardeners I have been working with plants and learning about plants for 25-plus years.  I love talking to and informing people about gardening practices and ideas and seeing positive influences for the environment.  Metro Blooms is just an extension of everything…  Read More

Gardening for Environmental Health

Board member Carol Kuechler’s story with Metro Blooms: In 2007, I first saw Metro Blooms’ work while touring two Minneapolis neighborhoods where raingardens and other stormwater management strategies prevented water from getting into basements. I was so intrigued by the beauty of the native plants like Joe-Pye weed in the raingardens and curious about practices…  Read More

On Faith, Community and Dirty Fingernails

How Board Chair Bob Wolk came on board: Rabbi Hillel the Elder once said, “If I am not for myself, who will be?  If I’m only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” Hmm. So the water bill arrived one day, along with an invitation from Metro Blooms to nominate a garden for…  Read More

Jun Tang Maps Pollinator Sweet Spots

Jun Tang is committed to making the Twin Cities and beyond more habitable for some of our smallest denizens: pollinators. A regional planner for Metro Blooms, Tang has developed a comprehensive mapping system to achieve this goal. His system creates highly-detailed maps of pollinator habitat and then identifies “sweet spots” where the money spent to…  Read More

Your Soil Health Really Matters

Please call it soil, not dirt. The rock, clay, minerals and silt that make up dirt are largely devoid of the organic matter and living organisms in the complex ecosystem that is healthy soil. In our newest workshop on creating healthy soil, in partnership with the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, local soil experts share practical knowledge…  Read More

Metro Blooms and Social Enterprise at NEON

(Caption: The NEON Property Maintenance program invests in human capital. Sheltonn Johnson, manager of program) Sheltonn Johnson now sees plants that he used to walk by every day without ever noticing. He is familiar with different ways of preventing stormwater runoff and has hands-on experience in measuring and excavating a raingarden. These are some benefits…  Read More

Metro Blooms, St. Louis Park and the Rainwater Rewards Partnership

(Photo courtesy of the City of St. Louis Park) “I am a raingarden” signs have sprouted like wildflowers in some St. Louis Park neighborhoods this summer. They are located in raingardens installed under a new program intended to make the process easier and less costly for homeowners. The Rainwater Rewards Grant Program, a partnership between…  Read More

Lynnhurst Garden Tour: Raingardens, a Native Planting, a Bee Lawn

Three raingardens and a yard with native plantings were featured on a recent tour of a Metro Blooms project in Minneapolis’ Lynnhurst neighborhood. They were part of a program that makes environmentally-friendly landscaping and gardening strategies available to residents at a significant savings. It’s called Lynnhurst Yards and Gardens for Clean Water. The program is a…  Read More

Ragweed and Goldenrod: Weeds to Watch This Week

(Above, a Canada goldenrod invasion) We’ve been doing raingarden maintenance lately. This includes pulling a lot of ragweed and Canada goldenrod. Read on for more about these invasives. Ragweed, Ambrosia Recently I took a few minutes to watch the late evening news.  I was excited to see a segment on ragweed. This is the culprit behind…  Read More

Jennifer Moeller: Landscape Designer and Artist

Metro Blooms’ design team has become more artistic. When new member Jennifer Moeller is not out in the field working or in the office planning, she just might be drawing or painting. The aquarium mural in the lobby of the pediatric floor at a local hospital is her work, as are the animal murals in…  Read More

A Blooming Alley in St. Paul

Metro Blooms of Minneapolis has taken its work to make alleys greener across the river into St. Paul. Four raingardens, three areas of native plantings and a permeable pavement system are new features of the landscape in and near a Merriam Park alley that help prevent water pollution and provide more natural habitat. It’s part…  Read More

Metro Blooms at the One Water Summit

(Caption: Some people bring their best game faces to important events. Community Engagement Manager Kimberly Carpenter brought Metro Blooms’ best flower faces. Photo courtesy of Hennepin County Extension). Metro Blooms had 15 minutes of fame recently when its clean water work in the Harrison Neighborhood in Minneapolis was featured on a bus tour of innovative…  Read More

Weeds to Watch This Week

Weeds, a.k.a. Wild Urban Plants What is a weed?  Emerson said they are plants whose utility has yet to be found. From an ecological perspective, they are colonizers of disturbed soil.  Often annual, they produce impressive amounts of seed that float off to find bare soil, sites free from competing plants.  They are modifiers.  Weeds…  Read More

Metro Blooms: Seeking Environmental Justice in the Harrison Neighborhood

If Metro Blooms were a vehicle (green energy-powered, of course), the community would be the driver. The destination is always the same: clean water, habitat and a more beautiful environment. But it is a community’s residents, businesses and local institutions that decide how the journey is taken. As a non-profit that specializes in ecological landscaping,…  Read More

Reed Canary Grass: Weeds to Watch This Week

Reed Canary Grass, Phalaris arundinacea This is a plant you want to know to attack quickly if it shows up in your raingarden.  I’ve seen it invade dry boulevards where the owner thought it was just a desirable showy grass.  This grass is nearly impossible to eradicate in extensive mats.  If you see it blooming anywhere,…  Read More

Raingarden Maintenance Made Easier: Good Timing and Tools

In a raingarden, there will always be weeding, but you can make it easier on yourself if you have good timing and the right tools. That was one of the main messages at the first session of Sustainable Landcare: Raingarden Maintenance, a three-part workshop series organized by Metro Blooms’ Blue Thumb organization. The workshop was…  Read More

Curly Leaf Dock: Weeds to Watch This Week

Curly Leaf Dock, Rumex crispus This ubiquitous plant is one you want to get to know.  Here is a view of a patch on a boulevard, with seed beginning to ripen.  If you catch it early enough– plants with sufficient moisture supply and leaves recently unfurled–you can eat it!  With our recent rain I have…  Read More

Creeping Charlie: Weeds to Watch This Week

Creeping Charlie, Glechoma hederacea If you have not encountered this plant in your travels or heard a discussion about what to do with this aggressive non-native ground cover, you probably need to get out more. It seems to be everywhere. While it can be a daunting process, it is possible to weed it out. Of…  Read More

Garlic Mustard: Weeds to Watch This Week

Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata If you have ventured out walking the woods this week, you may have noticed clusters of small white flowers on stalks about knee high with triangular shaped leaves with large toothed margins. This plant is likely garlic mustard. There are no other white blooms that look similar at the point in…  Read More

A Permeable Alley in a Minneapolis Neighborhood

Lori Fewer is pleased with the new surface on the alley, just installed, behind her house. “It’s beautiful,” she says. The network of interlocking concrete pavers is much more inviting than the former patched, worn surface it replaced. Even better, it is permeable, with arched chambers in the concrete blocks and a porous layer of…  Read More

Tree Seedlings: Weeds to Watch This Week

Tree seedlings are easy to spot right now: Any woody plant with foliage emerging in a garden is probably not wanted, but very easy to pull. Get them while they are less than 6 inches tall and they can be pulled by hand. If they get any larger, use a channel lock pliers, to pull…  Read More

Choosing Turf Alternatives

If you want to change your lawn, ask yourself what you expect from your new landscape. How different do you want it to look? How much time are you prepared to spend on maintenance? How much foot traffic will it receive? Then think about existing conditions. What kind of soil do you have? How important…  Read More

Be a grower instead of mower: eco-landscaping expert joins Metro Blooms

The way Douglas Owens-Pike sees it, people can spend less time and money on their landscaping, all the while creating more beautiful, resilient yards. They can reduce their grass-cutting and their use of inputs and yet be more confident in their garden’s well-being and ability to withstand the challenges of severe weather events like record-breaking…  Read More

Metro Blooms’ Maintenance Training Pilot Program

The Sustainable Need to Weed “How many of you, if we go out to weed right now, would know what you’re doing?” Anna Bierbauer, our Metro Blooms landscape designer, asks. In a classroom at Folwell School this summer, two Wilderness Inquiry youth raise their hands. Soon after a short lecture about two species of weeds,…  Read More

Workshop Reflections

What a Twentysomething Renter Learned   I have recently experienced the effects of poorly managed stormwater: water dripped from the roof and into the spaces between my apartment walls, paint on the wall in our kitchen and common hallway bubbled and cracked, our kitchen flooring became soggy and peeled right up. My husband and I…  Read More

Sustainable Lawns: How “Green” is Your Grass?

We are a lawn-abiding citizenry. Dutifully we water, fertilize, and mow, and for our efforts we are rewarded with a lush, well-manicured carpet of grass – the thicker and more uniformly green, the better. But how “green” is our grass, really? Consider the following: • The EPA estimates that landscape irrigation nationwide accounts for almost…  Read More

Creating Climate Resilient Yards

We live in unsettled times, and nowhere is this more evident than outside our own windows. Through them, we see more extreme weather events every year. Leslie Yetka, of the Freshwater Society, has been observing these changes since childhood, when she would sail tinfoil boats down rivers of snow-melt in the street. As an adult, she…  Read More