(upbeat music) - Our son and his friends enjoy the first weekend in March each year by jumping into a lake near Brainerd for the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.
Well, one year they invited dear old dad to plunge with them.
It was so cold that year, but the Super Troopers went ahead with the plunge, and then spent the rest of the afternoon drying off and trying to warm up.
We heard there was an arboretum nearby, but it was too cold to visit that weekend.
Join us now as we finally get to explore it.
- [Speaker] Funding for Prairie Yard and Garden is provided by Heartland Motor Company, providing service to Minnesota and the Dakotas for over 30 years in the heart of truck country.
Heartland Motor Company, we have your best interest at Heart; Farmers Mutual Telephone Company and Federated Telephone Cooperative proud to be powering Acira, pioneers in bringing state-of-the-art technology to our rural communities; Mark and Margaret Yackel-Juleen in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a non-profit rural education retreat center in a beautiful prairie setting near Windom, Minnesota; and by Friends of Prairie Yard and Garden, a community of supporters like you who engage in the long-term growth of this series.
To become a friend of Prairie Yard and Garden, visit pioneer.org/pyg.
(upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) - Tom and I love to visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, or really any display gardens too.
Those spots are kind of heaven on earth for a couple of plant geeks like us.
When I found out there was an arboretum near Brainerd, it became part of my bucket list.
So I called Candice Zimmermann, the Executive Director of Northland Arboretum, and asked, "If we could come visit?"
And she said, "Sure."
- Thank you.
Looking forward to sharing more with you today.
- Tell me how and when did the Northland Arboretum get established?
- Well, the Northland Arboretum was established in the early 1970s.
This used to be the Brainerd landfill.
So the community rallied together, decided that this needed to be a place of a green space, it needed to be a place of beauty.
So they rallied together with the help of our Founder, Rudy Hillig, and they made it into what it is today.
- [Mary] How big is the arboretum?
- The arboretum itself is 413 acres, so that includes our garden areas, our trail system, and we're open year-round, which provides a lot of recreational opportunities for the community.
We receive, I would say about 25,000 individual visits between our festivals and our events, the cross-country skiing meets that we hold here, and the many educational programs that we offer to the community.
We get a lot of visitation.
We are open seven days a week here at the Northland Arboretum.
So during the week we're open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30, and weekends, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., which will provide anybody who wants access to the arb to have an opportunity.
And then our trail system is available until dusk.
We are a year-round facility, so anyone that is a hiker or a jogger using it during the warm winter months, and then being available during the winter with our cross-country skiing, just make sure that we are available to the widest audience that we possibly can.
- What are some of the different plant areas here at the arboretum?
- We have over two dozen gardens, individual gardens that we manage and maintain with the help of our volunteers.
We also have a 12-mile trail system.
And those trails get transformed into cross-country ski trails that are groomed, and two miles of those trails are lit.
So it's a great opportunity even during those winter months when we don't get as much sunlight for people to come out and still be physically active right here in the middle of Brainerd.
- [Mary] How big is your staff to handle this big arboretum?
- We are a small, but mighty crew, so (laughs) we have three full-time staff and a total of six part-time staff that help in many ways.
So from administrative to helping manage the grounds, but then we rely on a lot of volunteers to help us as well.
And then during the winter months, the Brainerd Nordic Ski Club helps us meticulously groom the cross-country ski trails.
And we have a really unique location right here in the middle of Brainerd/Baxter.
We butt right up to the Paul Bunyan State Trail, so there's opportunities for bicycling and roller skating, and we can serve as headquarters and a main stop for people that are using that trail system.
- I've heard about the Fitness Trail.
What is that?
- The Fitness Trail was launched in 2015 as a part of a wellness campaign for the community.
So the Fitness Trail is a system that has crushed granite, so very easy to walk, very easy, and it has wheelchair accessibility.
And then there are 12 fitness stations around the fitness trail that help with stretching and strength training.
And we see people out on that trail system all the time utilizing it.
What's great about that system is that there is a QR code, and it brings you to an app that shows you exactly how to use that station and what parts of the body it's going to help you either stretch or improve.
So that app system can be available just on your smartphone.
- [Mary] What are some of the garden and gazebo areas that you have here at the arboretum?
- [Candice] This is one of the main gazebo gardens that we have.
It's a great opportunity to hold a ceremony here, but it's also a great educational opportunity because each of the plants are labeled by our master gardeners.
And then we also have main areas like our Holden Gazebo, which is right next to the Visitor Center.
Great place for a picnic lunch, or to just kind of walk through as you're browsing the trail system.
Each of our garden areas are available for rent, and a lot of times people will hold their ceremonies here, or a family reunion, and all they have to do is call up the Visitor Center, and we will make sure that it's reserved for when they visit.
- [Mary] Who keeps this so beautiful?
- [Candice] It's a great partnership opportunity between my maintenance crew, but then a huge component of it is our volunteers.
And they're in here on a weekly basis making sure that it is all maintained, that it's well-labeled, and that it's providing a great experience for our members and our visitors.
- [Mary] How do you determine what is planted in here or what programs that you do?
- [Candice] A lot of it is planned out in advance.
We do project planning with our grounds and maintenance committee.
So once a plan is put in place, then it's on to implementation.
So we always have to decide, do we have a budget?
And do we have a sustainability plan for those areas?
And it takes kind of, it's a labor of love, and it takes a lot of people to maintain 400 acres, but somehow the community rallies, and we make it happen.
And you can see the result of that as you're walking through.
- [Mary] So do you have plants that are donated, or do you purchase all of these beautiful plants?
- We do have a lot of plants that are donated.
We do have our master gardeners often take them from their home gardens and transplant them.
Some of them, they start from seed, and some of them are donated from landscape nurseries in the area.
So again, it's this beautiful puzzle that's put together by the community.
- [Mary] Well, I also saw this Visitor Center when we came in, and there was some lovely plants over there.
Can we go see that too?
- [Candice] Absolutely.
(upbeat music) - [Speaker] Everyone loves chips and salsa and a good spinach dip at a party.
But what about trying something new using delicious meat, cheese, vegetables, and other things produced right here in Minnesota?
Today in our kitchen, you're in for a real treat.
I'm joined by Randee Hokanson.
And you may have seen Randee before in our show, she's a Minnesota Master Gardener, and a wonderful source of great ideas, and she's a really gifted designer too.
Randee is going to tell us about something called a charcuterie board.
Am I pronouncing that right?
- You are, it's a French word.
- What does that mean?
- The French butcher was called a charcutier, and they produced the cured meat and the cheeses that were on the original boards.
But since this process and this protocol has evolved, we've added lots of other food and savories and cheeses and meats to the design.
So you can have a whole platter just in one dish.
- [Mary] What are some of the things that you might put on a charcuterie board?
- If you were gonna call it a charcuterie board, you would have the meat and the cheese.
And as you can see from the example here, try to select things that the guests that you have or the family that you're serving include things that they really like.
- [Mary] I know we both love to shop local when making our recipes.
How can Minnesota Grown products make my board special?
- There are a lot of producers in Minnesota, and we have many fruits, and we have lots of vegetables in our gardens and in the farmer's markets during the summer.
We have some savories that are a mix of wild rices, and we have lingonberries.
There's no right or wrong way to do them.
You find the foods that you want to use, the flavors you want to use, and I put the blues with the blackberries and the blueberries to represent the great Mississippi River.
We have the Star of the North with a cheese, we grow lingonberries here, we grow blueberries here and cornbread.
Big meat producing state, so we've kind of included a lot of the things that you would find, and you would enjoy in Minnesota.
- [Mary] And if you are looking for locally produced meat, cheese, vegetables, or other treats to make your next charcuterie board special, visit minnesotagrown.com for sources near you.
- So, Mary, what where we are right now is our Rain Garden.
And the purpose of the Rain Garden is to help a little bit with the runoff from our parking lot.
It's right here adjacent to our beautiful Visitor Center, but also to provide a area where people can just relax and calm, and take in some of the colors and the sounds that we have, and they'll be able to experience throughout the arboretum.
So some of the plants that we have here are meant to be native plantings, so that we can see a lot of the pollinators and the butterflies that are native to this area.
- [Mary] So what are some of the plants that were used here in this Rain Garden area?
- [Candice] Yeah, so the design of it is very well done.
Again, a partnership with the Master Gardeners and the Master Naturalist Program.
And they did an excellent job kind of getting some height difference and getting some great visual appeal to this garden.
We have the tall Joe Pye weeds here, and then we have great pollinator-friendly plants, like the blazing star behind you.
And throughout the garden you'll see as you're walking, you'll see bumblebees, and you'll see moths and butterflies, and dragonflies in the pond behind us.
So you can see that there really is a great habitat here for our local wildlife.
- [Mary] And then I see this beautiful spot behind us too.
- [Candice] Yes, so you'll see we have our water feature here, and then the Holden Gazebo where people will, you'll often see people there taking a picnic or a lunch during the midday.
It's a wonderful spot to relax.
- [Mary] There were some more flowers when we came in.
What area is that?
- [Candice] Yes, we're next to the Pollinator Garden that was created in memoriam of one of our excellent gardeners, and it's just a beautiful space, again, to relax and browse through.
- [Mary] How were the plants picked for that area?
- [Candice] A lot of them are just with the intention of having more native plants available, not only for an education component, but to provide these excellent habitats for our wildlife.
- [Mary] So you must strive to have something blooming at different times of the year?
- [Candice] We absolutely do.
So you can see here, and at the end of July, we have some excellent lilies blooming, but then later on you're just gonna see these pops of color happening throughout the entire arboretum.
So anytime you're visiting, you're gonna see something that's just gonna catch your eye, and it's an excellent way to just spend your afternoon.
(upbeat music) So what we have here, Mary, is our Memorial Garden, and really it's another component of the arb where someone...
It's a healing space, it's drinking in the sights and the sounds, and remembering loved ones.
And everybody needs some time to do that.
And we also have within the garden benches that memorialize people that were close to the arb.
Maybe they volunteered, maybe they were a part of its founding core group.
And it's an excellent place to just kind of sit and relax, take in the water feature, and just enjoy the beautiful tiered garden that we have behind you.
- [Mary] I was really admiring the water features.
What do you do with these in the wintertime?
- [Candice] They get shut down as a part of our winterization process.
So we don't run them, of course, but it's just a part of the main maintenance of our maintenance crew.
So, and then we start them back up in the springtime again.
- [Mary] Who built the wall?
- [Candice] So this is an interesting feature for the arboretum because it was a real collaboration with Central Lakes College.
Their horticulture group put together a plan they implemented, and now it's been maintained by the Master Gardener program, and its beautiful self here today.
So it's wonderful with all the colors that are in there, and it blooms at certain times of the year, so no matter what season you're visiting, there's always some interesting feature that you're able to enjoy here.
- [Mary] Are the plants in the wall watered?
- [Candice] They are.
Most of our gardens have a sprinkler system that's automated, but every once in awhile, our volunteers will come in.
Last year we had a drought season, so they were coming in and maintaining, and providing just that extra care for our gardens that... And they desperately needed it.
So this year has been more of a cleanup year for us, and you're seeing the result of that, that they're doing a fantastic job.
- [Mary] Are the plants that are planted in here, are they annuals or are they perennials?
- Most of them are perennials.
Again, we try to stick with as many natives as we possibly can, but of course, we do welcome donations.
So you're gonna see annuals being popped in from here to there.
Of course, you see our lovely sedum, that's just growing between the rocks and providing a great visual.
So I think it's just, it's that mix sometimes that provides that great visual appeal I was talking about earlier.
- [Mary] Well, the sedum looks just gorgeous with the rocks.
- [Candice] It's vibrant, yep.
- [Mary] And then there's a flower area just on the outside too.
- [Mary] Is that part of this garden too?
- [Candice] It's more of an expansion.
So we have groups of volunteers that come in and wanna make something their own, and that garden is a result of that.
And they have been caring for it meticulously for years, and it's just a beautiful expansion of this great garden, and then just a continued walk for someone as they're trying to memorialize and remember their loved ones.
- [Mary] What I really like is that you've used some of the rock over there too, so it ties into this beautiful rock wall.
- [Candice] We try to provide as much natural landscaping as we possibly can.
So you'll notice that we don't have a lot of metal fencing, we have a lot of wood, a lot of rock.
So we wanna try to keep the arboretum as natural as possible.
- [Mary] And this bridge, was this built here by somebody here?
- [Candice] Yeah, so again, one of our volunteers, people often donate their time as well as their own money, and their labor to go into wonderful things like this.
And I spoke earlier about puzzle pieces coming together.
Again, it's one of those things where, if everybody does their part, something beautiful is gonna happen.
And I think the volunteers at the arb realized that, and they really rally behind us when something needs to be done, when a project needs to be completed.
So we have a wonderful group behind us.
- [Mary] You had mentioned a gazebo garden.
Could we go take a look at that?
- [Candice] It's my favorite area, let's go see it.
(upbeat music) Okay, Mary, this is my favorite spot here in the Northland Arboretum.
So this is our gazebo garden.
And the reason that I love it so much is that there's such diverse plant life in this particular garden.
It's so beautiful, there's so many colors, and it has one of our original structures behind us here, the gazebo that was recently revamped as a part of our summer project.
So we tried to plan these projects and make little enhancements every single year.
And the gazebo behind us, that was in ill repair, we needed to make some improvements, so we decided to give it a little bit of a facelift.
And then around the gazebo, you'll find new plants and a new pathway.
And really it's just the perfect spot for gathering family, and even doing a wedding ceremony, which is, this is one of the main spots that people love to do their weddings.
- [Mary] Why is there a fence around here, not around some of the other places?
- [Candice] (chuckles) Believe it or not, we have a ton of wildlife here at the (chuckles) Northland Arboretum, so the deer actually are more of a nuisance than people might realize.
So we try to fence in the areas where deer like to nibble.
And although it keeps the deer out, the bears are walking through all the time.
So we have a little bear cub called Booboo that visits us from time to time.
But it's just, it's so enjoyable, and the garden kind of with the fence around it provides a little bit of privacy too for people that wanna just have a quiet walk on their afternoon.
- [Mary] Who designed this area?
- Again, it was a group of volunteers.
I believe this was one of the first gardens that the Northland Arboretum created, and it's just kind of expanded over time, it's evolved over time.
We wouldn't be able to make areas like this possible without an amazing group of volunteers, and we're always looking for more.
So anybody out there that has a green thumb, or maybe you wanna learn more and have a green thumb, come out and visit us because we have, again, those Master Gardener volunteers are willing to mentor people, and it's a great area to just have some hands-on experience, if you're looking to learn more.
- [Mary] This is a beautiful place, especially in the summertime.
- [Mary] But what do you do, or where do people use the facilities in the winter?
- [Candice] Yeah, we do have a great trail system, however, limited indoor facilities, but we do have a great Visitor Center, which I'd love to show you.
(upbeat music) - I have a question.
When we travel to the southwest, we love seeing cactuses.
Does Minnesota have any natural cacti?
- A lot of people don't know this, but we do actually have cactus in Minnesota.
We do have three species in the state, two of them are common, and one of them not common at all.
The places you'll find them in Minnesota are sandy, prairie kinds of places, southern, southwestern Minnesota.
The cactus that's behind me in our garden here is a prickly pear, and that's probably the one you're most likely to run across if you're wandering out in the natural area in southern Minnesota.
There's another prickly pear, it's called the Fragile Prickly Pear, that's not quite as common, but it's still not too hard to find.
And then there is this one, this is the ball cactus, ball cactus, Escobaria vivipara.
It's a species that's only found in one population in the state.
It's a little more common further west, and further southwest, but in the state it's only found in one particular spot.
And we're starting to grow this here at the arboretum.
So these cactus that we're growing here at the arboretum are part of a rescue project, a translocation project that we're working on with this particular population in the state, trying to diversify the population, spread it out into some protected areas to make sure that it can continue to survive in the state.
And along the way we're learning about how to propagate, and how to establish it because establishing cacti in the wild is a tricky thing.
- [Speaker] "Ask the Arboretum Experts" has been brought to you by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska dedicated to welcoming, informing, and inspiring all through outstanding displays, protected natural areas, horticultural research and education.
- Well, Mary, since we've visited the gardens, I really wanted you to be able to experience our Visitor Center as well.
The Visitor Center is a place where our educational programming takes place, our workshops and our classes.
And then it's also provides a great little gift shop for people to visit when maybe it's raining out, or maybe it's too cold to be on the trail system.
- [Mary] Do private individuals or businesses use the Visitor Center also?
- [Candice] We have a lot of community members that come in and use our Visitor Center.
It's kind of a hot spot because we're central, and we're located right smack dab in the middle of town.
So we have business meetings that go on, we have people taking photos here on the grounds, we have people that rent the facility for weddings and bridal showers and baby showers.
So it's really a great community centered space for Brainerd/Baxter.
- Then do you sponsor community events too that are actually sponsored by the arboretum?
- Yeah, so we host a lot of events for our fundraising campaigns.
So, for example, we have, our next event coming up is called the Firefly Festival, and that's gonna be an outdoor music event.
And then we have one in the fall that's very focused on Halloween, it's called our Haunted Trail.
And then a free community event in the spring to celebrate Arbor Day.
And that's really where our bread and butter is because we have a ton of kids that show up.
We have great giveaways, and we get people connected with nature.
And right at the beginning of our warm weather season in April, that's when you wanna get people outdoors.
So it's a great introduction again of what the arboreal has to offer, and great public awareness when we're doing these events.
- [Mary] It sounds like you do a tremendous job of education here at the arboretum.
- [Candice] Yeah, we actually have a Gardening 101, we call it G101 class for kids today.
So if you wanna take a look, we can go join them.
- [Mary] That would be great.
(upbeat music) - I'm Dan Lee, I'm the Vice President of the arboretum, and a Crow Wing County Master Gardener.
Welcome to our gardens.
- Well, thank you.
This is wonderful to be here, but tell me about the Community Giving Project.
So the community Giving Project is a project by the Crow Wing County Master Gardeners in conjunction with the arboretum.
And we have several different components to it where we produce local food as well as educational programs for the community.
In spring we have a small team of people who start bedding plants to be used by other components of the garden.
We have one group that puts together container gardens that are donated to local charities or organizations for people that might not otherwise be able to garden.
Then we have a group of people who teach Gardening 101 for kids.
We then have Gardening 101 for adults, and we've got adults from 16 to over 80-years-old that are coming out here doing gardening, hands-on gardening themselves.
And then we also have a group that come out here, and the remaining garden spaces that aren't used, put them into something we call the Giving Garden where all the produce that is grown is donated to food shelves inside of Crow Wing County.
The Salvation Army here in town gets a quite a bit of the food.
We also give to the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen in town that uses the food to produce meals for people.
We donate to WIC here locally in the county as well as the women's shelter in town.
We also drive food up to Pequot Lakes, to Nisswa, to Emily, to Cross Lake, and Garrison.
So basically we're sharing the food with all the food shelves across the entire county.
- Well, it sounds like you do a marvelous job and the work that you do here at the arboretum is just wonderful.
- Well, thank you very much.
We're proud of it, and we're proud of the fact that we can give back to the community.
- [Mary] Joe, what do you like about the classes here at the arboretum?
- Well, I think it's nice that you get to like plant things, and you get to take care of them, and you get to do it every Wednesday and... - [Mary] Have you learned a lot too?
- [Joe] Yeah.
- [Mary] What did you grow in your plot here in the garden?
- Let's see here.
Beans, peas, genus.
Let's see, carrots.
Did I already mentioned tomato?
- [Mary] Okay.
Did you harvest some of the things today?
- [Joe] Yep, I harvested the beans, the tomatoes, and the peas.
- [Mary] Oh-oh-oh, you're going to eat well at your house, aren't you?
- [Mary] (laughs) Good job!
(upbeat music) - [Candice] I love how it involved those kids get in their gardening classes, and they're just so excited to get those vegetables picked at the end of the day.
- [Mary] Weren't they just amazing?
Thank you so much for sharing the kids and the program, and your whole beautiful facility with us.
- Thank you for being here, it was a pleasure.
(upbeat music) (upbeat music) - [Speaker] Funding for Prairie Yard and Garden is provided by Heartland Motor Company, providing service to Minnesota and the Dakotas for over 30 years in the heart of truck country.
Heartland Motor Company, we have your best interest at heart; Farmers Mutual Telephone Company and Federated Telephone Cooperative proud to be powering Acira, pioneers in bringing state-of-the-art technology to our rural communities; Mark and Margaret Yackel-Juleen in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a non-profit rural education retreat center in a beautiful prairie setting near Windom, Minnesota; and by Friends of Prairie Yard and Garden, a community of supporters like you who engage in the long-term growth of this series.
To become a friend of Prairie Yard and Garden, visit pioneer.org/pyg.