Greening Minnesota ~ July 2010

Summer is in full swing in Minnesota. That means the news is filled with stories about our lakes, our parks, and our farmers markets. of course, all of those are topics we love to cover in Greening Minnesota.

Earlier this month, Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famous late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, visited Powderhorn Park on July 4 to promote an effort called Expedition: Blue Planet and to film a segment for it. Minneapolis was the first stop for the project’s film crew and biodiesel bus on its 14,500-mile tour across North America to investigate water issues and educate the public about water conservation. Some local organizations were there to help, too, like Blue Thumb, a clean-water program started by Rice Creek Watershed District that now has many chapters in Minnesota, and Metro Blooms, whose mission is to promote eco-friendly gardening that beautifies neighborhoods and protects the environment.

To help people recycle more when they're not at home, Ramsey County officials are setting aside $1.3 million to buy nearly 2,000 recycling bins to give to cities for use in public areas. It will be a three-phase program over three years. First, cities would put the bins in parks, along trails and in other recreational places. Second, cities would put the bins along streets. Third, the county would offer the containers to school athletic facilities. The goal is to have the same kind of container in every public park in the county. Ramsey County has already put about 400 containers in its parks and ice arenas.

A patch of grass along Nicollet Avenue past Burnsville's Civic Center campus is brown and dead for good reason: The City is turning the one-acre site into a field of native prairie grasses and wildflowers. It is the first step in the city's plan to cut maintenance costs and reduce negative impacts on the environment. Between $8,000 and $10,000 will be devoted to the project, Jacobson said, adding that it will pay for itself...

Spring Flower Shows in the Twin Cities

 There are two great flower shows coming up to help get you into the mood for spring!

Starting Saturday, the Spring Flower Show at Como's Marjorie McNeely Conservatory will be abloom in the Sunken Garden with more tulips than would probably ever fit in your back yard. There will also be a few thousand daffodils and hyacinths, accented with snapdragons, irises, ranunculus, hydrangeas, freesias and lilies. If the sight and smell of all those flowers isn't enough to pique your interest, there also will be gardener talks, family activities such as storytelling, games and take-home crafts as part of the opening of the show this Saturday and Sunday, known as the Spring Fling. The Spring Flower Show is free and open to the public from March 27 throug May 2. For more information, visit

Additionally, Macy's is again teaming up with Bachman's to put on a flower show that has become a rite of spring. Starting Sunday, "Spring is in the Air" will be on display in the eighth-floor auditorium of the Macy's building, 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

"In this show you can't just look down at the beds, you have to look up," said Dale Bachman, CEO of Bachman's.

That's because there will be flowers parachuting from the ceiling, trapeze swings covered with foliage, and a two-story-tall hot-air balloon landing in a bed of Diamond Frost euphorbia. The 10 rainbow-colored gardens will be filled with flowers and hardy plants that Twin Cities gardeners can grow in their own back yards. Invasive buckthorn, one overly hardy plant, will even make an appearance repurposed into a twig gazebo.

The free show is open during store hours Sunday through April 11. The two-week show will include in-store events, family fun days, cooking demonstrations and entertainment in addition to springs colors.


Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Minneapolis

The dreaded emerald ash borer has been discovered in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Agriculture Department confirmed the infestation of four trees at Tower Hill Park, not far from known infestations in St. Paul and Falcon Heights. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will cut down the trees before spring and intensify efforts to find other diseased trees.

This is not an unexpected turn of events. With the discovery of the green beetles last spring in St. Paul and later in Falcon Heights, officials are trying to slow the spread. A widespread and expensive infestation could threaten the state's 940 million ash trees.

Last year, 82 diseased trees were found and removed in the South St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul and one tree in Falcon Heights. Earlier this year, crews in St. Paul began cutting down 355 nondiseased boulevard ash trees in other parts of the city as part of a broader strategy to slow the spread of the beetle. The Como Park neighborhood is experimenting by pre-emptively cutting down 40 undiseased ash trees. In the spring, crews expect to focus their efforts on removing diseased trees in the infested area.

In Minneapolis, crews participating in an ongoing survey of trees recently found D-shaped exit holes and other indicators of the ash borers in the trees, all within a mile of the St. Paul infestation. The new location indicates the infestation is likely part of the original one discovered last year, according to Mike Schommer, an agriculture department spokesman.

"Finding it in Minneapolis is not a real big surprise because we know that infestation had been in place for about three years before it was found,'' Schommer said. "We also know adult beetles can fly up to two miles on their own.''

"Really, this is just sort of a natural outgrowth of that ground zero area,'' added Jim Hermann, forestry program manager for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis March 2009

New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, decreased in March according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors' Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  Throughout the month, there were 556 new listings in Saint Paul, compared to the 674 homes put up on the market during March 2008.  That is a decrease of -17.5%. Comparatively, there were 548 new listings in January and 480 in February.  All St. Paul neighborhoods saw their listings decrease this time. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:


Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis February 2009

New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, decreased in February according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  Throughout the month, there were 480 new listings in Saint Paul, compared to the 602 homes put up on the market during February 2008.  That is a decrease of -20.3%.  Comparatively, there were 548 new listings in January 2009.  The Merriam Park and West 7th saw increases in posted new listings, while the other St. Paul neighborhoods saw their listings decrease. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:

Como 27 (-25.0%)
Crocus Hill 32 (-31.9%)
Downtown Saint Paul 34 (-41.4%)
East Side 111 (-3.5%)
Highland Park 35 (-16.7%)
Mac-Groveland 22 (-15.4%)
Merriam Park 14 (+27.3%)
North End/Frogtown 65 (-4.4%)
Phalen 60 (-33.3%)
Southeast 20 (-20.0%)
St. Anthony/Midway 15 (-54.5%)
West 7th 18 (+20.0%)
West Side/Cherokee 27 (-20.6%)

For the year to date posted new listings in St. Paul, the “snapshot” is slightly different. For February and January, there were 1,027 new listings, compared to the 1,164 during the same time period of 2008. That is a -11.8% decrease.  The East Side, Merriam Park, and West 7th neighborhoods saw increases in listings up to +17.4%; other neighborhood listings dropped.

There were a lot of homes sold within St. Paul, Minnesota, in February compared to the same month of 2008.  There were 202 homes sold throughout the month, a full +27.0% increase over the 159 homes sold in February 2008!  It was a mixed bag as to where homes were selling and where they weren’t, with the biggest differences seen in West Side/Cherokee with a +260.0% increase in sales and Downtown seeing a -55.6% decrease in sales. Closed sales on homes for February 2009 in Saint Paul by neighborhood: ...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis January 2009

The first St. Paul real estate market analysis for the year of 2009! New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, decreased in January according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  During the month, there were 548 new listings in Saint Paul, compared to the 562 homes put up on the market during January 2008.  That is a decrease of just -2.5%.  It was a mixed bag when the posted new listings are broken out by neighborhood, as some big increases while others saw decreases. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:

Como 29 (-14.7%)
Crocus Hill 38 (-29.6%)
Downtown Saint Paul 32 (-45.8%)
East Side 138 (+26.6%)
Highland Park 36 (+9.1%)
Mac-Groveland 24 (-27.3%)
Merriam Park 14 (+16.7%)
North End/Frogtown 64 (-13.5%)
Phalen 84 (+16.7%)
Southeast 11 (-21.4%)
St. Anthony/Midway 27 (+3.8%)
West 7th 13 (-23.5%)
West Side/Cherokee 35 (+52.2%)

The number of homes sold within St. Paul, Minnesota, in January 2009 is higher than the same month of 2008, a trend that has been running for a few months.  There were 170 homes sold throughout the month, a +7.6% increase over the 158 homes sold in January 2008.  Closed sales on homes for January 2009 in Saint Paul by neighborhood:

Como 4 (-20.0%)
Crocus Hill 11 (-26.7%)
Downtown Saint Paul 384 (-20.0%)
East Side 39 (+30.0%)
Highland Park 10 (-33.3%)
Mac-Groveland 8 (-20.0%)
Merriam Park 5 (-0.0%)
North End/Frogtown 27 (+58.8%)
Phalen 32 (+77.8%)
Southeast 3 (-70.0%)
St. Anthony/Midway 6 (-45.5%)
West 7th 4 (+33.3%)
West Side/Cherokee10 (+25.0%)

The prices of homes sold in St. Paul have continued to fall.  The average sales price of a home sold in January was $111,222, a negative change from...

Three Things

First, it’s almost Valentine’s Day!  Celebrate love and romance amongst the flowers and animals at the Woo at the Zoo at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul.  It starts the 13 and runs through February 16. You can learn about the origins of chocolate, the meanings of flowers, and how the animals ‘woo’ one another. This four-day event, with activities stations and make and take crafts, offers something for all ages.

Next, when it is Valentine’s Day, what are your plans? Candlelit trails, bonfires, sleigh rides, romantic music and snowshoeing under the stars have made Valentine's Day a popular event at five locations in the Three Rivers Park District. Only the Park District's largest program, at Richardson Nature Center in Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, still has reservations open for its "Candlelight and Chocolate" evenings on Feb. 13 and 14.

Finally, it’s almost time for spring projects! Get some inspiration next weekend at the Home & Patio Show!  It will be held at the RiverCentre in Saint Paul from February 19 through the 22.  See first-hand what’s new on the market for gardening, landscaping, home renovation, building, decorating and more.  Pick up tips from the pros in daily seminars. Visit the new Minnesota Green Zone, dedicated to products and services that help us live and build green.

There are your three upcoming events!  Don’t forget that there are some ...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis: December 2008

The last St. Paul real estate market analysis for the year of 2008.  Let’s get it done!  New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, increased in December according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  During December, there were 399 new listings in St. Paul, compared to the 351 homes put up on the market during the same month of 2007.  That is an increase of about +13.7%.  Unlike November, lots of neighborhoods saw increases in new listings.  The increase in new listings is a little unusual, given that December is so full of holidays. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:  (Barker & Hedges blog entry about November 2008 St. Paul Real Estate Market Activity.)

Como 13 (+18.2%)
Crocus Hill 23 (+4.5%)
Downtown Saint Paul 17 (+21.4%)
East Side 104 (+25.3%)
Highland Park 16 (-5.9%)
Mac-Groveland 12 (-40.0%)
Merriam Park 4 (-55.6%)
North End / Frogtown 70 (+40.0%)
Phalen 69 (+30.2%)
Southeast 18 (-10.0%)
St. Anthony / Midway 16 (-0.0%)
West 7th 13 (-27.8%)
West Side / Cherokee 24 (+50.0%)

Saint Paul’s posted new listings of homes for sale in 2008 ended at 6,859.  That is a decline of -8.8% from 2007’s 7,520 homes listed for the year.  Mac-Groveland, St. Anthony / Midway, and West 7th neighborhoods experienced the greatest declines in new listings.  The Phalen and West Side / Cherokee neighborhoods have been the only St. Paul neighborhoods that saw boosts in new listings.  Homes listed in Saint Paul by neighborhood:

Como 381 (-18.8%)
Crocus Hill 494 (-18.5%)
Downtown Saint Paul 383 (-20.2%)
East Side 1514 (-2.5%)
Highland Park 439 (-12.7%)
Mac-Groveland 370 (-21.8%)
Merriam Park 189 (-21.3%)
North End / Frogtown 860 (-5.6%)

Minneapolis Southwest Community Highlights

The Southwest Community of Minneapolis consists of several neighborhoods loosely bordered on the north by 36th Street and on the east by Interstate 35W, with city limits serving as western and southern boundaries. 

Linden Hills – In the northwest corner of Southwest Minneapolis is the upscale, well-developed Linden Hills neighborhood.  Linden Hills is bound on the north by 36th Street West and Lake Calhoun, on the east by William Berry Drive and Lake Harriet, on the south by 47th Street West, and on the west by France Avenue.  Linden Hills is one of the larger neighborhoods in Minneapolis. The neighborhood was named after the linden trees and rolling hills that can be found in the area.

Linden Hills first was developed during the 1880s to lure homebuyers into leave downtown for homes on Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. Since that time, most of the original cottages have been replaced by a number of home types, like ramblers, colonials, Tudors, and bungalows. The Lake Harriet-Como Streetcar line passes through the neighborhood between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun.

Often referred to as “a small town in the City,” Linden Hills has excellent housing opportunities, interesting boutique shops, unique restaurants, and a variety of parks with many amenities.  The Linden Hills shopping district can be found at 43rd & Upton, offering an eclectic mix of shopping and eating venues which can’t be found any where else. The Linden Hills Co-op offers grocery alternatives and Great Harvest Bread Company has been a landmark in the community for years.  Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun are an easy walk from nearly anywhere within the neighborhood. The lakes provide a variety of activities, like swimming, sailing, and walking or biking ride along paths that connect to the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.

East Harriet – To the east of Linden Hills,...

Two Holidays Down with One to Go

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to adjust back to “work mode” following this middle-of-the-week Christmas.  Depending on if you celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, you could very well still be celebrating!  Thanksgiving, with its long hours of cooking and even longer hours with extended family, was just one month ago.  Add in all of the preparation craziness that happens between these two holidays (and even more family time), and I’m sure I’m not alone in being just a little tired of celebrating, but not quite ready to face the “real world.”  It is nice to know that there is at least one more excuse we can give ourselves for not having our heads entirely in the game: New Year’s Eve!

My friends have somewhat of a New Year’s tradition of gathering at a home, bringing lots of tasty finger-foods and “pot luck” style dishes along with bottles of champagne.  We play games, listen to music, get a little rowdy, and watch the ball drop.  Most everyone stays the night, ensuring that we all stay safe.  From the sounds of it, that is probably what we’re going to do again this year.  But if not, there is a variety of Plan Bs to choose from, because something is always happening here in the Twin Cities! 

First, starting at 10:00 AM at Saint Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, is the kid-friendly “Noon Year’s Eve” event.  Rock in the "Zoo" year with your friends at the Como Zoo! The fun is perfectly fit for the whole family, with live entertainment by Radio Disney, crafts, activities, and a countdown to Noon.

The next notable event, the final showing of the Holiday Lights in the Park, starts at...