An interpretive garden at the Arboretun welcomes people to the restored prairie.Chaska, Minnesota
MASLA Merit Award, Public Landscape Design MNLA Grand Honor Award, Sustainable Environments Design
The Capen Prairie Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is an introduction to the prairie aesthetic. The garden site shows the difference between the wild, untamed native prairie and a deliberately designed prairie – which can actually have the feel of a classic perennial border, but more sustainably so.
Simple massings of native species share the viewshed with 30 acres of restored prairie, and are complemented by rich local materials. The garden offers alternatives to the perception that prairies are messy and uninteresting, by offering a showcase of native plants in more intentional arrangements. To walk into the Capen Prairie Garden is to experience both faces of the prairie: the wild and the refined.
The Capen Prairie Garden has an educational purpose that extends beyond plant identification or ecosystem functionality diagrams. The garden is designed to immerse the visitor in the prairie aesthetic: both of the natural, wild prairie, and of the prairie they could take into their residential or commercial landscapes. The garden offers alternatives to the perception that prairies are untamed, by offering a showcase of native plants in more intentional arrangements.