As part of my summer pledge to visit more public gardens around the Twin Cities and beyond, I drove over to the western suburb of Plymouth last weekend to visit Millennium Garden. This beautiful public space was built to mark the turn of the 21st century. Funded by city and private money, it opened in 2003. The garden is located just below the Plymouth Creek Community Center and connects to a variety of city trails for walking and biking.
I arrived fairly early in the day to beat the heat, but I was not alone. A group was taking photos in the more formal areas, possibly for a wedding later that day, families drove through on their bikes and visitors sat in the wilder spaces outside the main garden, watching birds and other wildlife enjoy the ponds. Birds, bees and butterflies were everywhere.
Native Plants and More
The garden mixes formal and informal elements, and if you are someone looking for ways to incorporate native plants in a more traditional garden, wander over to Millennium Garden for inspiration. The first plant I noticed walking into the garden was buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a large shrub, covered with white, spherical flowers that reminded me of a certain virus we’re all familiar with these days. The flowers were swarmed by bees and butterflies. This was part of the garden’s Native Shrub Garden, which focuses on less-used shrubs that benefit pollinators. On the opposite side of the formal areas was a butterfly garden, filled with native and nonnative plants butterflies love, such as asters, daylilies, bee balm, yarrow, parsley and vervain among many others. The plants are not labeled, so bring your favorite plant ID app on your phone to identify plants that are new to you.
The formal areas include a rose garden (unfortunately, the Japanese beetles have discovered it), a soothing fountain and water garden and what they call the Grand Lawn, which leads to a stage that is capped with two pergolas flanking a bronze statue called The Winged Iris. It would be a beautiful setting for an outdoor wedding.
Beyond the stage, in a more secluded spot, is a labyrinth, a stone path that takes you in and out of a circle and all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. I love this form of meditation that is used in many faith traditions, and took a nice slow walk around the labyrinth.
It’s hard to know where the gardens end and the park around it begins. On one side of the garden, I discovered stone steps that wound around a waterfall. It was a hot, sunny day, so I sat down on the steps and enjoyed the shade and the sound of water. Beyond the waterfall a walking path led you around a pond, flanked by more native plants.
This is not a huge garden, but is a nice place to spend an hour or so walking among the plants. There are benches and other types of seating all over the garden, making it a comfortable place to go and rest. It’s fairly accessible, too, with good paving throughout.
Kudos to the people of Plymouth for imagining, funding and building such a beautiful community garden.