Thanks, State Fair Garden Partners

This article originally appeared in the Jul/August 2019 issue of Northern Gardener.

Sometimes it takes a village to raise a garden, and thankfully, we’ve found a village of collaborators in the Adopt-a-Garden Program at the Minnesota State Fair. MSHS is indebted to our special partners who have come together to create and maintain these gardens with us in a beautiful display of partnership.

If you have not seen it before, the MSHS Adopt-a-Garden is on the southwest corner of the Horticulture Building, near the intersection of Judson Avenue and Underwood Street.

Let me introduce you to the great partners who will be helping us this year!

pollinator plants at state fair garden

Our garden is filled with pollinator plants.

Ponds and Pollinators

Twin Cities-based Minnesota Waterscapes has been maintaining a water feature in the pond area in the middle of our garden for several years. This year, they’re taking the partnership to a new level and will be adding a 6-foot waterfall. This is the first phase in a three-year plan to rebuild the space and show the potential of water features, such as ponds and waterfalls, to enhance backyard landscapes. Volunteer Mary Maguire Lerman will use plants from the MSHS Pollinator Packs to design the gardens around the pond. The plants in the pollinator packs are grown by Glacial Ridge Growers of Glenwood and designed to provide food for four different pollinators; bees, butterflies, monarchs and hummingbirds. To learn more about the pollinator packs and where to purchase them, visit and search for “pollinator packs.”

From Shady to Sun

Our hosta garden took a big hit last year when the tree shading it lost a third of its branches in a windstorm. (We know many readers can identify with this problem!) Our beautiful shade garden suddenly became a garden basking in the sun, and many of the shade-loving plants needed rescuing. Bob Russell of the Hennepin County Master Gardeners (HCMG) was there to help divide plants and organize this specimen garden. We will continue to partner with the HCMG on the garden, which will be used as a hosta test garden.

Deb Kvaame and her horticulture students from Hennepin Technical College add their own special touch of color and pizazz to three small gardens on the southwest side of the space. They choose and plant annuals with foliage and flowers that are popping with texture and color during the fair.

state fair garden sign

Stop by our garden and our booth in the Horticulture Building at the fair!

Healthy Soil, Hard Work

The key to a healthy garden is healthy soil, and St. Paul-based Kern Landscape Resources has been helping MSHS build healthy soil at the fair for years. Once a year, Kern donates several cubic yards of Organic Grower’s Mulch, which is one-part cow manure and one-part pine fines. The plants love it. Much of the plant material used at the MSHS State Fair garden was obtained through donations to the MSHS program Minnesota Green.

The staff at MSHS cannot be forgotten. A few times a year, we roll up our sleeves and plant, weed, mulch, move and generally do what needs to be done to get the MSHS Adopt-a-Garden ready for the fair.

Stop by during the Minnesota State Fair to see this work in progress!

—Lara Lau-Schommer


  1. Joel Karsten on August 14, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve driven by the adopt-a-garden every few days this summer as I tend my own adopt-a-garden, and I am very impressed with all the changes this year. It looks very nice. I hope we get good weather this year at the fair, it could be a great fair with our changes at the Hort!

    • Mary Lahr Schier on August 15, 2019 at 12:58 am

      It should be very exciting. The gardens look terrific now — we added a ton of new plants on Tuesday.

  2. […] will have our MSHS Potted Plant Show that runs the first couple of days of the fair, our beautiful State Fair Garden, which includes a sample of the box we supply to our Garden-in-a-Box program participants, and all […]

  3. […] the first day was one of the most exciting. No one is tired of the noise or fried food yet, and the state fair gardens look so clean and neat. It was usually the first day of the MSHS Potted Plant Show and on a break […]

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