Welcome to the Myrick Park Native Gardens
The Myrick Park Center is surrounded by nine native gardens containing a multitude of native species, habitats, and educational opportunities. While the gardens are maintained by the Master Gardeners and the Master Naturalist, they fit right into the existing ecosystem. Not only are these gardens beautiful, but they also demonstrate the healthy codependency between flora and fauna. Keep reading to learn more about these impressive gardens and what you can do to support native plants.
Volunteer in Our Gardens!
If you’re ready to get your hands dirty, we are always looking for volunteers!
Volunteers meet every Thursday from 9:00 -12:00 starting May 5th. However, if Thursdays don’t work for you, you can fill out the contact form to ask our Native Gardens Assistant, Veronica Sannes, about other times that you could volunteer.
Volunteering at Myrick’s native gardens will include tasks such as:
Planting new forbs, grasses and sedges
Removing weeds and non-native plants
Transplanting seedlings to other gardens or raised beds
Trimming plants to prevent tall or floppy growth
Watering new plants
Description: Volunteers, Betty and Rosalie having fun in the Retention basin garden.
What Are Native Plants?
Definition: A plant that has lived and developed in a particular region for over hundreds or thousands of years
Play a huge roll in ecosystems and provide invaluable support to the organisms around them
Support insect, bird, and other wildlife populations
Require little maintenance
Maintain genetic diversity
The Origins of the Gardens
The Myrick Park center has had a long journey to get to what it is today. Before WisCorps settled in as its current host, the center was home to the Myrick Hixon Eco-Park. Before closing, the Eco-Park planted a prairies grass garden which remains one of our native gardens today. Since WisCorps has moved in, eight more native gardens have been planted through the help of the Bluff County Master Gardeners Association and in cooperation and assistance with the City of La Crosse. The master gardeners and other volunteers have planned and maintained each garden with care, creating a local treasure that is here to stay.
The Value of Native Gardens
Native gardens hold immeasurable value to their communities. To name a few, they supply food and habitat to native wildlife, are easier to maintain, encourage a deeper understanding of our relationship with the land, and are magnificent to observe.
Support Biodiversity and Crucial Wildlife
One of the biggest benefits of native gardens is the support they offer to native insects and biodiversity. Many of the plant species that we use for food or for decoration depend on a wide range of insects.
Some of the most crucial native insects include decomposers (who decompose organic material), pollinators (who assist with plant reproduction), and natural predators (who help control population levels). In addition to supporting human food systems, these insects also help maintain the food systems that support most other wildlife.
In short, native insects play a vital role in maintaining the world as we know it. However, these populations are declining due to competition with non-native insects and human practices of land development and pesticide use. Native gardens provide food and habitat for these species, helping them continue their essential work of maintaining ecosystem biodiversity.
Description: A Monarch Butterfly collecting nectar from Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate).
Easier to Maintain
Compared to the typical manicured lawn, native landscaping requires less maintenance, less dependence on fossil fuels, less water, and practically no pesticide or fertilizer use.
Unlike common lawn practice, native landscapes do not need to be mowed. As most lawn mowers run on gasoline, this helps to reduce our use of fossil fuel energy.
Also, being that native plant species have co-adapted in their natural region, they have grown more resistant to challenges such as weather changes and weeds. They have a higher endurance to drought, as their deep root systems increase the soil’s water storage capacity. In turn, these root systems help reduce runoff, flooding, and soil erosion.
Lastly, pesticides and fertilizers often contain chemicals that, when introduced to the water systems via runoff, disrupt the natural ecosystem and damage water quality. Being native species are more resistant to things like weeds and insects, they do not require the use of pesticides or fertilizers the way non-native plants do. With all that being said, native gardens still need our love and attention in order to truly thrive!
Description: A variety of native plants in the walkway garden, highlighting Butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a bright orange flower.
Foster Relationships with the Land
While human manipulation of the natural environment has been a consistent threat to native plants and animals, implementing native gardens is one way we can reestablish our relationship with this land. When we plant native gardens, we are able to observe up close the natural ecosystem we have inserted ourselves into. Whether you’re watching the birds, bees, butterflies, critters, or the thriving plants, you’re able to observe the fascinating roles these native species play.
Native gardens can provide us with educational insights, opportunities for recreation and relaxation, a chance to reflect on the natural world around us, and a deeper understanding of our role in that world.
Description: Black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) climbing on a thin branch.
If those reasons don’t entice you, native gardens are also simply beautiful! Check out our Native Species of the Week to see a new beauty each week ↓
Native Plant of The Week
This week's Plant of the Week is Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)! It is found natively in the Northern United States. They enjoy part shade to sun. They are hardy and can thrive in bare bluff soil, the rocky North shore of Lake Superior, and sandy prairies. Its bloom season lasts from June to October. Harebell attracts many animals including native bee and hummingbirds. Fun fact: Harebell can self-fertilize! Stop by the Walkway Garden at Myrick Park Center to see for yourself!
Here are some identification tips:
Flowers are about ¾ inch long with 5 blue/purple petals
Flower is bell shaped
Leaves come from the base of the plant and are round to heart-shaped with no hairs
Leaves normally are withered by the time the flowers are blooming
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