#Weymu40 – The Museum Had Prairies Before Prairies Were a Thing

Prairie area on the north side of the Weyerhaeuser Museum property, 2015.
Prairie area on the north side of the Weyerhaeuser Museum property, 2015.

On September 22, 1977, The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum received a set of guidelines from Prairie Restorations, Inc. for prairie landscaping at the museum. As it turns out, Prairie Restorations, which is headquartered in Princeton, MN, was founded that year and the museum was an early customer.

Ron Bowen, one of the founders of Prairie Restorations, used to walk along roadway ditches in order to collect the prairie seeds he needed to grow the business (both literally and figuratively). From this humble beginning, the company has grown from 3 employees to 45 and from 1 operational location to 6. The company still restores prairies, but also works to restore other ecosystems, like wetlands and woodlands.

Before sustainability became a household word, the Weyerhaeuser Museum was practicing it by having Prairie Restorations install natural prairie areas on the grounds. We still maintain those prairie areas, one on the north side of the museum grounds, adjacent to the forest of the Lindbergh Site, and one along the east side very close to the building.

The original cost to install the prairie was $7,556. Plants included in this first planting included Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Side Oats Grama, Blue Grama, Indian Grass, Purple Cone Flower, Yellow Cone Flower, Prairie Blazing Star, Black-Eyed Susan, Penstemon, Prairie Coreopsis, Common Ox-Eye, Smooth Aster, Many-Flowered Aster, Azure Aster, White Upland Aster, Dotted Blazing Star, Blue Verbena, Prairie Cinquefoil, Northern Bedstraw, Leadplant, Alum Root, Prairie Smoke, Pasque Flower, Showy Goldenrod, Stiff Goldenrod, and Wild Bergamot.

Prairie Smoke was also installed around the fountain at the time. It didn’t do well around in that location because too much water from the fountain blew into the plants and killed them off.

Museum staff enjoy watching the prairie areas evolve over the seasons, hoping to see butterfly weed and other prairie flowers pop up.

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Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum.

Prairie flower in Weyerhaeuser Museum's prairie area. Photo by Glenys Warner.
Prairie flower in Weyerhaeuser Museum’s prairie area. Photo by Glenys Warner.

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