BEMIDJI, Minn. — In place of colorful, labor and chemical intensive annual flowers, visitors to Bemidji State University will find a bed of beautiful native perennials residing in the raised beds between the A.C. Clark Library, the upper Hobson Memorial Union and Sanford Hall.
The installation was done by the University’s summer student grounds crew, with assistance by a group of volunteers coordinated by Erika Bailey-Johnson, sustainability coordinator at Bemidji State. The volunteers included Bailey-Johnson’s father-in-law, Bruce Johnson, members of the University’s Environmental Advisory Committee, staff members from the A.C. Clark Library and students participating in a summer People and the Environment course on campus.
The University’s Physical Plant, which typically offers contracts for on-campus beds to be planted with annuals, provided financial support for the installation of the native plants.
“Planting native perennials has multiple economic and environmental benefits,” Bailey-Johnson said. “Since the plants are adapted to northern Minnesota’s harsh climates, there is a long-term cost savings since the plants require minimal maintenance once they’re established. The plants also require no fertilizers or pesticides, have benefits to wildlife by providing habitat and food for native butterflies, birds and other pollinators, and use their long root systems to conserve water and control erosion.”
Bailey-Johnson added that it would take one to two years for the plants to become established. She also pointed out the economic benefits that come from perennials that do not have to be replanted every year, unlike the annuals the University had been planting in the past.
Photos of the installation process are available here.