Before 1850, the uplands of what is now Minneapolis were covered with prairie grasses, wildflowers, and scattered oak trees. This oak savanna plant community has become very rare, with only 1/10th of 1% of Minnesota’s original savanna remaining. The Nokomis Naturescape project – a 4-acre native planting – brings back a glimpse of this ecosystem and provides urban residents with a model of sustainable landscaping.
The Naturescape is an official Monarch Waystation and National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat site located on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis at 50th St. and Nokomis Parkway and is part of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board system.
In the spring of 1998, the steep hillside southeast of the Nokomis Community Center was planted with grasses and wildflowers, and three perennial gardens, using only plants native to this area, were installed adjacent to Lake Nokomis. The demonstration prairie gardens intend to provide an aesthetically appealing example of natural landscaping techniques using native plants in a managed context. The gardens add a variety of colors and textures to the park throughout the season while creating habitat for songbirds, beneficial insects, and butterflies.
In 2001, the lake scape plan was made more complete with the addition of a naturalized shoreline which includes aquatic, wet prairie and upland native vegetation. In 2004, a native shrub garden was planted alongside the hillside prairie garden. The shrubs chosen are particularly beneficial for native songbirds.
The Nokomis Naturescape is a project of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
Why Native Plants?
Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. Native plants work well for many landscaping and wildlife plantings, because once established, they need less watering, mulching, protection from frost or continuous mowing.
Native plants provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. In contrast, many common horticultural plants do not produce nectar and often require insect pest control to survive. Many native grasses and wildflowers protect soil with their deep and spreading root systems, helping to prevent erosion. Areas with diverse perennial native plantings have less water runoff than ground covers of non-native species such as bluegrass.
The Nokomis Naturescape is a Monarch Waystation.
Join The Naturescape Volunteer Gardeners
“Encouraging People to Connect with Nature by Growing Native Plant Gardens”
Choose your level of commitment — from the occasional helper, to adopting a section of a garden. Gardening by the lakeside is an enjoyable time spent with people sharing your interest. We welcome all help to keep our garden a native plant showcase, inspiring park patrons to go native in their yards and to see the beautiful liveliness of natural habitats. For more information or to volunteer, call visit the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board garden volunteer page.