Winter doesn't have to spell the end of your enjoyment of your native plant garden or raingarden.
Your raingarden or native plant garden can provide enjoyment all year round. Vegetation left standing over the winter can provide interesting textures while providing habitat for pollinators and food for birds; many butterflies, caterpillars, and bees will overwinter in grasses left standing or hollow hollow stems of plants like Joe-pye-weed. Seedheads of plants like Blackeyed Susan and native sunflowers will bring in some of the birds that make Minnesota home during winter - Chickadees, Finches, and Cardinals to name a few. Native shrubs, such as High Bush Cranberry and Winterberry, often produce colorful berries the give your yard a nice pop of color that birds can't resist as a nice tasty treat. Of course, we can bring some of that enjoyment inside. Berry laden twigs, evergreen branches, and dried flowers can be used in indoor and outdoor arrangements. Other crafts are possible; see directions for making a sun print (cyanotype) provided by CleanWaterMN.org below.
Don't have a native plant or raingarden in your yard? No worries, we've got you covered. How-to workshops on design and installation will be offered this spring; you can sign up today to be notified when registration is open. Many projects will qualify for grants from the SWCD and City.
How to make your own cyanotype print with natural materials
Materials: cyanotype or “sun print” paper (you can find this at your local art shop or online), a bowl of water large enough to fit the paper, and natural materials such as leaves and sticks
- Find materials you’d like to use in your print. We recommend leaves rather than flowers to create a crisp image.
- Place your leaves on top of the cyanotype paper in direct sun. Act quickly. As soon as the paper is exposed to sunlight, it will begin to develop, so it works best to get your composition ready before heading out into the sun. You can place a sheet of glass or acrylic over the materials to press them down and to prevent them from blowing around in the wind.
- Watch the exposure. When the uncovered parts of the paper have turned white in the sun, it’s ready to rinse. The sunnier it is, the quicker the paper will develop. Cyanotype paper can develop in 30 seconds.
- Rinse the paper in a water bath for about one minute to stop the paper from developing.
- Lay the wet paper somewhere flat to dry. Once dry, you can press the pages under a stack of books to flatten any curled edges. Then you’ll have a beautiful, blue and white image.