Natural Shore Technologies |  612-703-7581 
January Article
Laugh at winter - get out and explore!

January in Minnesota can certainly be an interesting time: winter storms bearing down, below zero temperatures testing our nerves, and ice and wind make travel seem like a horror movie. But wait, we are Minnesotans! Our ancestry prepared us for this environment, and thus, we get out exploring, observing, and learning about our natural systems.

If you look closely, ecology is still happening outside, even in the coldest subzero temperatures.  Animals, plants, and their environment interact in fascinating ways during the seemingly slow winter months. Here are a few observations from some of our Natural Shore staff:

Tracy's Winter Observations: When walking through a forest, prairie, or lakeside trail in the winter, remember to use your senses! Take a moment to use your sense of smell. Is there a hint of pine in the air? Smoke from a campfire? Even the cold temperature seems to have a distinct clean, crisp smell. Next listen. Do you hear wind in the trees? A chickadee chirping happily? We have
This Bohemian Waxwing gobbles up a berry out of mid-air!
 a multitude of birds living here all winter long, taking shelter in our diverse natural areas. In addition, our feathered friends flitter in and out of restoration areas looking for tasty seeds, essential in keeping them fat and happy all winter long.  Taste can be a harder sense to observe on a winter hike. Maybe you bring a thermos of hot chocolate with you, to add flavor and warmth to your winter hike. Or embrace your inner child by catching a few falling snowflakes with your tongue. What does that taste like? Take a minute to touch a variety of dormant grasses and wildflowers. Some are smooth, and some are rough and prickly. Bring a child out in the winter wonderland to explore the almost endless textures that our native plants provide.

Colin's Winter Observations: It's a real treat to use our sense of sight to look for and track animals in the winter. If you take the time and observe, its pretty easy to see signs of wildlife activity. This is a fun activity for all wildlife enthusiasts and can be a great winter activity and adventure for the entire family. Having an animal track field guide can be very helpful.  January and February can be great months to discover white-tailed deer, wild turkey, coyote, and if you are really lucky, even the red fox.  If your restoration is near open water along rivers one can spot trumpeter swans, geese, and even bald eagles.  Your natural area can provide much needed shelter and food for these creatures. With a little perseverance and some warm clothes on, looking for signs of wildlife in your restoration can be a fun activity during these snowy months. Can you spot the tunnels small rodents make in the snow? Maybe even the snowy imprint of an owl swooping down to make one of those rodents its meal? Prairie grasses smashed down could be where a family of deer spent the night. New and interesting observations are never-ending. What have you seen this winter?

Janna's Winter Observations: Winter is half over.  Can you sense it?  The days are becoming noticeably longer.  We currently have over nine full hours of daylight, and are gaining nearly two minutes every day!  The short, grey days of late November and December are a thing of the past. Now, if only we could shake this chill.  The weather outlook shows a general warming trend toward the end of this month.  These mild days would be most welcome as we are sitting nearly 2.5 degrees below average in mid-January.  The snowfall in the Twin Cities is slightly below average even after that last exciting snow storm. The few "storms" we have had, placed heaviest precipitation north and/or south of the metro area.  Average snowfall totals are approximately 27 inches; and we've crept up to about 24 inches...  It seems like every time we gain an inch we have another "January thaw" and above freezing temperatures reduce our fluffy whiteness.  We just cannot seem to build a snowpack. But, February and March can be pretty snowy months; here's to hoping!
What have been your winter observations?

We would love to hear winter stories from your restoration! Join our new Facebook group called  Native Plants and Natural Areas Restoration Group!

Feel free to add your pictures and observations!
Native Plant of the Month
Prairie Cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Moisture: Wet or Moist
Exposure: Full Sun or Partial Shade
Color: Yellow or Green
Blooms: August-October
Height: 3-6 Feet

Prairie Cordgrass is a wonderful native plant used in many native plant restorations. It prefers wet or moist soils but can handle a variety of conditions. It is a warm season, fast growing grass, and has deep roots that can be particularly useful in stabilizing shoreline soils. Their light green stems and leaf blades are hairless. This grass mostly spreads by rhizominous root system, as their seeds are often eaten by insects, birds, and other wildlife. 
Invasive Plant of the Month
Cat Mint
2002 © Peter M. Dziuk
Nepeta cataria

Moisture: Dry to Moist
Exposure: Full Sun to Full Shade
Color: White
Blooms: July- October
Height: 1-4 Feet

Many gardeners purposely plant this European native for their cats, but unfortunately it can quickly spread by seed to native areas. It can tolerate many different soil and exposure conditions. It has a square stem with some branching stems. Their leaves are a light minty green, heart-shaped, and hairy. The stems are also hairy. Their small, white, tubular flowers have small purple dots and are found in clusters on top of the branching stems. Maintenance strategies include hand pulling and weed whipping to prevent seed maturation. 

Native plant alternatives include  White Prairie Clover or Horsemint!
Pollinator of the Month
Clouded Sulfur
Colias philodice

Range :  Most of North America
Habitat : Open areas like fields and meadows; where flowering plants are abundant.
Identification : Upper wings are white or yellow with a black margin. Undersides are light yellow or white as well with spots and a light colored margin. 
Pollination Adults visit various different native plants for nectar including Black Eyed Susan, New England Aster, Pale Purple Coneflower, Vervain species, Liatris species, Milkweed species, and many more.  
January 2018 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our retail nursery is currently closed. But will reopen spring 2018! Thank you for visiting us this season!

Our retail nursery address is:
1480 County Rd. 90  Independence MN 55359

Have any questions? Contact our greenhouse manager Jill at

Click and visit our website for current
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Upcoming Events
Come visit us at these events!

Jan. 23-25
Double Tree Park Place in Minneapolis

Univ. of Minn. CFANS Envir. Internship and Career Fair
Feb. 7
St. Paul Campus

2018 Pollinator Best Practices Summit
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
Feb. 8
Silverwood Park
St. Anthony

2018 Wild Ones Design with Nature Conference
Feb. 18
Anderson Student Center
Univ. of St. Thomas
5 Plants For...
Steep Hillsides

Many restorations, especially near lakes, have a steep grade that can be prone to erosion. Here are a few plants who we use to hold hillsides together.

1.  Canada Wild Rye
( Elymus canadensis)

2. Bottle Brush Grass
( Elymus hystrix)

3. Sprengel's Sedge
(Carex sprengelii)

4. Black Eyed Susan
( Rudbeckia hirta)

5. Foxglove Beardtongue ( Penstemon digitalis)

 Want to learn more about these native plants? Click Here to visit our website!