Our Minnesota State Fair Garden: What’s New?

We always try to add new things to the MSHS demonstration garden at the Minnesota State Fair. This year, lead volunteer Mary Muellner and her crews have been creating more edible spaces, trying a new mulch and continuing the garden’s tradition of being beautiful and pollinator-friendly.

Ornamental peppers add contrast to an annual bed.

Our educational booth this spring is focused on peppers, so of course we had to plant some peppers in the display garden. (There will be many more at our booth inside.) Our triangle garden (right on the corner with a beautiful hydrangea tree in it) has several pretty peppers planted with celosia. By fair time, it will be lush and lovely.

Our street-scape garden also has an edibles theme with  honeyberries, edible marigolds, alpine strawberries, amaranth and dahlias.

We are working on an apple tree guild using permaculture principles in the apple tree gardens. There is more work to be done there, but permaculture is a multi-year effort and we’ll continue expanding it next year. We also have a garden filled with goji berries, a kiwi vine, herbs, yarrow, Echinacea and comfrey.

These ‘Sven’ roses look perfect, but check out the bloom on the far right. Argh!! Beetles.

We still have our Minnesota-hardy roses growing in one of the beds, though like many Twin Cities gardeners, we have been hit hard with Japanese beetles there. Thankfully, the beetles should be gone by fair-time, though some of their damage may still be visible.

Find our display garden in front of the Horticulture building at the corner of Judson and Underwood!

As in year’s past, the pond garden will show how soothing a water garden can be. (It’s a great place to relax when the fair gets to be too overwhelming!) And, our pollinator spaces will be in their full, early fall glory.

We could never create a garden this beautiful without donations of materials and time. Inspired Design Landscapes installed and designed the pond, as it has in the past. Plant donations came from our friends at Minnesota Green and Wagners Greenhouses and Garden Center.

Good Ole’ Hemp of St. Cloud donated hemp mulch, which we are testing in three of the beds. Hemp is a light-brown mulch that is said to increase water retention and prevent weed growth because the fibers bind together as the mulch gets wet. It will be interesting to see how this product works at the garden.

Aren’t these clematis gorgeous? You can see them in our Minnesota State Fair garden.


  1. Beth on August 25, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    What are the deep throated white flowers in a bed near the bus entrance I think. The entire plant stood approx 3 – 4’ tall.


    • Mary Lahr Schier on August 28, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      Beth — I haven’t seen those so am not sure. (We come in through Como Avenue usually and the buses are on the other side of the fair.) Will look for it next time I’m at the fair — or send a photo!

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