Natural Shore Technologies |  612-703-7581 
Our Retail Nursery is Open!
Visit our Retail Nursery!

Our retail nursery is open for the season! 
Our first sale date is this Thursday May 18th!
1480 County Rd. 90 Independence MN, 55359

Check the side bar or our website for
more 2017 sale dates!
May Article
Our Water Birds are Back!

One big benefit of ecological restoration is the quality habitat that you provide.  Transforming a boring turf grass shoreline to one that supports a diversity of native plants will turn a lot of heads.  It's like putting a bag of colorful jelly beans in front of an inquisitive 3 year-old child. Natural habitat grabs a lot of attention.  A wide range of animals like fish, frogs, and insects are attracted to the native flowers and grasses, and where you find these animals you also find a wonderful assortment of water birds. Right now, during the spring season, you will see many shoreline birds flocking back to your lake or pond. Here are a few interesting facts on some of these returning visitors you might see near your shoreline!

The Great Blue Heron is a stealthy predator, wading silently along the shoreline and hunting for fish and frogs, but they are also known to eat small mammals, snakes, and even other birds! Emergent shoreline vegetation composes their prime hunting grounds. They have a wing span of up to 70 inches and fly with their necks curled in towards their bodies (sandhill cranes fly with their necks extended outwards). Have you ever heard a call that sounded like a prehistoric flying dinosaur? That was probably a Great Blue Heron voicing its annoyance at being disturbed from its hunt.
Another common heron you might see in your restoration is the Green Heron. These are smaller than the Great Blue Heron but have devised ways to make up for their small size. They have been known to throw out "bait" like bugs or small pieces of vegetation to draw in small fish close enough for them to reach and gobble up.  This heron species is very common in ponds and other wet areas. Have you seen a tall white bird with a long neck and black legs wading along the shoreline edge? That is probably a Great Egret, another cunning hunter that sometimes herds small fish into shallow water so they can catch them more efficiently.

There are many different species of ducks that live in  Minnesota or migrate through in the spring and fall. Wood ducks, mallards, mergansers, buffleheads, teals, and many others make Minnesota their home. They rely on native plant species for food as well as cover to hide from predators. They also use native plants for nesting habitat. Our maintenance crews love spotting and counting the different types of ducks and their babies in the spring. Did you know that ducks often eat the seeds of sweet flag and blue flag iris? They also like to eat native plant tubers! Ducks and other waterfowl also eat insects along the shoreline that are closely associated with native plants.

Everyone recognizes the iconic Minnesota State bird, the common loon, from both its haunting call and distinct black and white markings. But did you know they can dive more than 200 feet deep? They are often found next to the shoreline where they can chase small fish that hang around emergent native plants. They also nest on shore in native sedge and grass patches.  Their specific nesting habits make shoreline restorations critically important for the success of their broods.
Geese, swans, cormorants, and pelicans, are some of the larger water birds you will see next to your shoreline. Geese and swans take advantage of their muskrat  neighbors and build their nests right on top of muskrat mounds.  Want to keep geese from using your lawn as a buffet and public bathroom? Planting tall native plants deter them from using your shoreline.  When they see taller vegetation, they inherently think of danger - because predators can be lurking in those plants. Natural buffers are a proven way to reduce geese on your property. 

Historically, cormorant colonies were hunted throughout Minnesota, mainly due to their reputation of eating too many fish. In truth, while large colonies can have an effect on fish populations, it is highly dependent on the lake.  Often, human fish harvest far outweighs the impact of cormorant colonies.

The American White Pelican, a moderate sized bird, was also threatened by human activity. They are mostly white but have black feathers on the tips of their wings. Fortunately, conservation efforts have brought their numbers back up. We are now seeing more and more nesting in Minnesota each year.  Hopefully, with additional shoreline habitat restoration efforts, nesting opportunities will be even more abundant, which will positively impact this species.

There are many other shoreline bird species in
 Minnesota that benefit from ecological restoration. They all have interesting traits and complex interactions with both native plants and other animal species. Bird watching is a wonderful pastime for any Minnesotan who appreciates wildlife. We are lucky to have so many species that call Minnesota home or visit us during the spring and fall migrations.

 Keep a lookout for these birds next time you are near a shoreline! Want to attract these types of birds to your shoreline? Visit our retail nursery to learn more about which plants will help make your shoreline a prime destination for these beautiful birds.
Native Plant of the Month
Culver's Root
Veronicastrum virginicum

Moisture: Moist
Exposure:  Full Sun or Partial Shade  
Blooms: June-August
Color: White
Height: 3-5 Feet
Culver's Root is an elegant and stately tall perennial  with terminal spikes of densely packed white flowers. A  tough and reliable plant, its  root system has a central taproot with outstretching  rhizomes.  Their leaves are narrow, oblong, and sharply toothed that are arranged in whorls along the stem.  The terminal flower spikes branch out to resemble candelabras.  The white flowers are small and tubular and bloom for over a month.  Culver's root thrives in full sun or part sun in moist to wet, saturated soils.  Found in mesic prairies, wet meadows and woodland edges.  Their flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps.  Roots were also used medicinally in folk medicine.  Other common names are Culver's physic and blackroot.
Invasive Plant of the Month
White Sweet Clover
2004  © Peter M. Dziuk www.minnesotawildflo
Melilotus alba

Moisture: Dry
Exposure:  Full Sun 
Blooms: June- October
Color: White
Height: 2-8 Feet

White Sweet Clover is a tall perennial weed that was introduced as a forage crop but escaped fields.  It is often seen along roadsides  or other areas where soil has been disturbed. The plant has multiple green or reddish stems that branch out from the plant's base. The leaves are compound and have three smaller leaflets. The flowers are small, white, and grow in spikes at the top of its branches. White Sweet Clover has a long, thick taproot that can make it difficult to pull out. Hand weeding or mowing is the best option to remove the plant or keep it from growing mature seed. 

Native plant alternatives include White Prairie Clover and Heath Aster!
Pollinator of the Month
Unequal Cellophane Bee
Colletes inaequalis

Range : Eastern North America, from Minnesota to Nova Scotia, south to the Gulf of Mexico.
Identification  These bees are a type of cellophane or polyester bee named for the material it secretes to line their ground nests. They have a hairy face, thorax, and bands on their abdomen. Their hair is usually yellow or pale yellowish-white. Their antennae are long and dark colored.
Pollination: Cellophane bees that emerge in the spring visit native tree species like maple, dogwood, willow, and others for pollen. In the summer they forage on prairie clover, ground cherry, wild onion, golden alexanders, and many others.They even help pollinate our apples, blueberries, and other fruit. 

Want to learn more about our native bees and native plants? Read Heather Holm's Bees- An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide.
May 2017 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our retail nursery is open! Check out our 2017 retail hours below:

10 am - 4 pm only on the following days:

May 18 Closed
May 25 Closed
June 1 June 3
June 8 June 10
June 15 June 17
June 22 June 24
June 29 Closed
July 20 July 22
Aug. 17
Aug. 19

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. 
5 Plants For...
Sunny Areas!
The sun is out longer and warming up this time of year and the native plants are all soaking it in! Some plants prefer more sun than others and here are a few that will do well in a very sunny location!

1. Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata

2. Aromatic Aster 
Aster oblongifolius

3. Turtlehead 
Chelone glabra

4. Woolgrass
Scirpus cyperinus

5. June Grass 
Koeleria macrantha

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

Photo Caption Contest!
Our retail nursery is open for the season!

To celebrate another exciting season to plant natives, add a caption to this picture of our retail nursery and win a prize!
Visit and "Like" our Facebook Page  Here!
Then add your caption to this photo and you could win!

Winner receives a $25 Gift Certificate for Native Plants! 

It's that easy! And check back next month for another photo caption contest!

April's Caption Contest Winner:
"The Lone Bloomer"- Karen K.
Questions? Comments?