Tis the season to tend to our gardens!

Watermark Members, volunteers and community members interested in native plants are invited to join us in the pollinator gardens this summer, and lend a hand to bring beauty and biodiversity to our downtown community!
Our garden crew will meet sporadically throughout the summer of 2023, working on general tasks like weeding, pruning and debris removal. Depending on the season, there may be opportunities for dividing perennials or collecting seeds. We will have an assortment of garden tools available, but encourage folks to bring their favorite gloves and weeders if they wish.

If you have a desire to learn more about gardening for wildlife, or have knowledge or experience to share, we hope you’ll join us this summer! Clubs, student groups and volunteer associations are encouraged to participate. No registration necessary, but if you plan on bringing a large group please let us know ahead of time if possible.

For questions or more details regarding volunteering or tours, please contact Outreach Coordinator Leah at lgrunzke@watermarkartcenter.org

Our Pollinator Garden guide signage was funded by the Mississippi Headwaters Audubon Society & Neilson Spearhead Center through a grant from the National Audubon Society’s Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants.

The Mississippi Headwaters Audubon Society, Bemidji Monarch Project committee and several other local organizations and businesses have joined together in a campaign called “Birds, Bees & Butterflies – Bemidji” to promote the planting of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers in our community to benefit birds and pollinators.

Watermark Plants Pollinator Gardens to Filter Stormwater Runoff

Creativity and community-building move beyond the walls of Watermark in the surrounding gardens, teeming with beauty and biodiversity. The landscaping is designed to beautify downtown Bemidji, support native pollinators and urban wildlife and serve as a demonstration area for visitors to learn about gardening with Minnesota’s rich variety of native plants, with the added bonus of acting as a retention pond for stormwater runoff.

Working in tandem with the Beltrami County Soil & Water Conservation District and “Birds, Bees & Butterflies – Bemidji”, Watermark installed its visionary gardens in 2018. Featuring two plots in the south green space, a stormwater filtration retention pond for the north side parking lot and a teaching garden area near Watermark’s main entrance, these welcoming gardens are perfect natural areas for incorporating into arts education programming.

“When the Birds, Bees, Butterflies Bemidji group first approached us, it was very serendipitous,” explained Watermark Executive Director Lori Forshee-Donnay. “Watermark was in the middle of researching ways to improve the visual and safety conditions of our stormwater retention pond. The idea of filling it with native vegetation was immediately appealing.”

The gardens were all designed by two local volunteers, Chris Towers and Nancy DeKray-Glenn. The planting took place over two days with 1,500 plants. The work was done by several local volunteers, as well as students from BSU – People & the Environment, and Americorps team members. Watermark continues to partner with the Soil & Water Conservation District, BBBB, BSU’s Sustainability Department and other local organizations to ensure the gardens remain a thriving point of community engagement.

“The pollinator garden was a great solution for beautifying our retention pond,” said Forshee-Donnay. “It allows us to grow shrubs and tall grasses to help disguise the hole while still allowing the water to drain through the soil. But as we continued to discuss this solution, we realized that this could be carried through to other parts of our property, as well.”

“We are so grateful for the diligence and generosity of all the individuals who made this possible,” said Forshee-Donnay. “Their gifts and hard work will make the exterior of Watermark as much a work of art as the pieces displayed inside. We can’t wait to see everything come to bloom in the spring!