RED WING — Students have been unable to attend classes in person this spring but three seniors still completed their spring internship project … a pollinator garden at the Anderson Center.

Reed Loer, Jacob Hardyman and Nick Bayley wanted to do an environmental sustainability project and their mutual interests led them to create the pollinator garden. Although they shared a common interest, none of them knew exactly how to plant a pollinator garden. Their process began by drawing up a design of the garden on graph paper while receiving tips and inspiration from Nancy Berlin, a Master Gardener.

Once they knew a bit more about how to create their garden, they needed to decide what to plant. For that, they researched native plants in Minnesota, specifically what is native to Barn Bluff and the surrounding Red Wing area.

“We wanted to make sure that the plants would thrive long-term,” Loer said.

The seniors worked with Berlin on what plants to grow and then sought a location for the garden. They reached out to the Anderson Center, which assisted them in finding a suitable location onsite. It was decided that the garden would surround part of the granary.

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Some of the plants placed in the pollinator garden include showy milkweed, butterfly weed, red dogwood, blue grama grass and rough blazing star as shown here. Jake Pfeifer / RiverTown Mutlimedia
Some of the plants placed in the pollinator garden include showy milkweed, butterfly weed, red dogwood, blue grama grass and rough blazing star as shown here. Jake Pfeifer / RiverTown Mutlimedia

Although the seniors started the project in January, they weren’t able to prep the soil until April.

This meant taking out the existing sandy soil and any root systems with a black dirt replacement. The soil and plants were provided by Sargent’s Nursery and planting began at the beginning of May.

Some of the plants students placed in the garden are anise hyssop, yellow and purple coneflowers, prairie dropseed grass, spirea bushes, showy milkweed, blue grama grass, red dogwood, butterfly weed, rough blazing star, and buttonbush.

Although the seniors chose to not plant seeds and instead young plants, the full payoff for the garden won’t be seen immediately.

“It will take a few years to get the full impact of the garden,” Hardyman said.