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Bright blooms highlight the trail around Markgrafs Lake

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Bulletin staff will check out some of the area’s parks in the coming months.

This week: Markgrafs Lake Park, 10260 Eastview Road

Born: 1990s to 2000s

Size: 50 acres, including the lake

A few weeks back, I came in to work and was greeted by a voicemail from a Woodbury resident. She wanted to tell me about the gardens she and her neighbors were tending. As it turns out, the gardens are right on one of Woodbury’s trails.

Alyce Turgeon’s message was about the wildflower garden she and her neighbors have been tending for the past decade. Her message told me it was on Markgrafs Lake, and that really, the colors start to pop in mid-July. I scribbled down details, pinned up the note, and mentally marked the date for when I would take a walk and check out the garden.

Well, that date turned out to be last Friday. And I was not disappointed. 

I called Turgeon back early last week, to visit a bit about this garden. It seems that, back in 2005, she read a story in the Woodbury Bulletin about a beautification project that was planned for the city. The idea, back then, was to replace some of the weeds and thistle that had grown up around some of the community’s ponds. 

Turgeon liked to garden, so she applied for a permit to participate in the project. 

“It was tough at first,” she told me. “I had all these questions, like how big of an area can I do? It was just me at the time.”

Some of her neighbors started working with her during the next few years. Gradually, they replaced the weeds and thistle with the flower garden that is now located along the trail around Markgrafs Lake. It’s come to be about a block long, and features all kinds of native wildflowers which are in full bloom.

So, last Friday, I harnessed up my little dog, Rissa, and we set off for Turgeon’s house. I had the opportunity to visit with Turgeon and her neighbors, and learn a little more about their garden. 

Apparently the garden changes a little bit every year. See, birds come and go daily, bringing with them flower seeds that are dropped in the garden. The flowers also act as an attractive resting spot for monarch butterflies — the neighbors applied to the Monarch Watch program have the garden designated as a Monarch Waystation — and the flowers attract lots of bees, too.

These days, Turgeon is joined in the garden by her neighbors Betty Lindstrom, Karen Billison, and Joyce Flynn. Flynn is new to the neighborhood, and she enjoyed gardening at her previous home. When she heard about the garden, she asked the ladies if she could participate. 

“They said, ‘Sure. That section’s yours,’” she said. 

The garden is popular among the folks who walk, run or bike along the trail around Markgrafs Lake, too. More than once, someone on the trail has stopped to admire the flowers, and the neighbors have received a lot of compliments on the garden. 

“A few years back, I had a woman stop to tell me, ‘This is my therapy.’ She said she walked around the lake every day and always liked to stop. If this helps one person, it’s worth it,” Turgeon told me. 

Unfortunately, Riss was not as impressed by the garden as I was. She took a few sniffs, and decided she’d like to move on. So, after 15 minutes or so, move on, we did. 

I was surprised by how many people were using the trail at 10:45 a.m. on a Friday; we definitely were not alone. Again, I wished I had had the foresight to print out a map of the trail, but why take the adventure out of it? 

Much of the trail does go through a wooded area, which was good for Rissa and me. The temperature definitely was on the rise as we walked the perimeter of  the lake, but we were able to find enough shade for my little pooch to stop and take a break now and then, too. 

The neighbors said the trail is about two miles long — “although some days it feels longer,” Flynn told me — so it was a good distance for a shorter walk. When I called Woodbury Parks and Recreation Director Bob Klatt on Monday, he told me the park is about 50 acres in size, though most of that is, in fact, the water. 

After visiting the garden along the trail, I can see why it’s a popular spot to stop. 

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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