Prairie Garden: 8000 Years of Growth

Posted on Aug 26, 2016 by The Forks Market

Way back when – we're talking 8000 years! – the Tall Grass Prairie started growing. It grew and grew, and eventually, it covered an area that was one and a half times the size of Manitoba, stretching all the way from Winnipeg to Texas. It was big, and it was beautiful!

But, when settlers arrived less than 200 years ago, they flattened the Tall Grass Prairie to make room for crops. Now, less than 1% of that natural grassland is still around.

We think that the Tall Grass Prairie is too beautiful to let disappear, so we created a Tall Grass Prairie right in the heart of Winnipeg's downtown – we call it the Prairie Garden.

It's filled with 150 native species of plants that grew wild here long before we ever came to The Forks for an evening walk or brought the family down for a weekend visit.

The Canada Goldenrod is one of our favourites. It is a stunning yellow form of aster, and right now, they're at their peak blooms. They really remind us of sunny days on the prairies.

The Cree name for this beauty is chachamos kakew which means "to make one sneeze." We haven't tested this theory, but we dare you, stop and smell the Canada Goldenrod!

The honey bees that live in the hives that the amazing BeeProject Apiaries put on our caboose love the Narrow Leaved Sunflower. The bees need flowers like this one, so they can buzz from bloom to bloom, pollinating each one. And then, they make honey with it, and oh my, is it delicious!

If you've been to Winnipeg Folk Festival, you've probably seen a show or two at the lively Big Bluestem stage. You guessed it – everyone's favourite party stage is named after this grass that dominates the Tall Grass Prairie. It was also the hundreds of buffalo's favourite snack!

The Tall Grass Prairie was a complete ecosystem that included animals like buffalo, elk, deer, and little bunnies like this one!

This weekend, come take a stroll through the Prairie Garden and experience the tranquility of thousands of years ago, when the greenery and critters ruled the land we love so much today.

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