An emerging new partnership between Michigan State University Extension and Windmill Island Gardens will allow those along the lakefront not only to learn more about pollinators in a new exhibit garden, but to use it for free Intelligent gardening Classes that run throughout the season. Classes are led by MSU Extension Senior Horticulture Educator Rebecca Finneran and cover a variety of topics. While classes are free, registration is required and limited to 60 people. To learn more and to sign up, visit programme.windmill.island.com.
The newly renovated ‘Vlinder Veld’ (Butterfly Garden) will feature dozens of new, pollinator-friendly plants to feed butterflies, native bees and beneficial insects. The garden features a wide variety of flowering plants and will explode with color from spring through fall.
Rather than building a show garden from scratch, MSU-Extension approached the city park and looked for a partnership along the lakefront, says Matt Helmus, development manager of Windmill Island Gardens.
Windmill Island Gardens created the “Vlinder Veld” a few years ago, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing changes, she scaled back plans for a while, Helmus says.
“It was a perfect partnership. They have the knowledge and we have the space,” he says.
The first course – Smart Gardening for Pollinators – filled up quickly. In fact, twice as many people signed up as there were places, Helmus says.
“The response has been tremendous,” he says, adding that the city is hoping to find a larger venue to accommodate more people to accommodate the response.
Two more courses are planned for this year:
July 19 – Garden Size Trees – Discover trees that adapt well to any garden area.
28th September – Smart bulb gardening – Discover a rich range of bulbs to add color to your garden throughout the season.
The classes focus on a larger purpose known as smart gardening. This is MSU Extension’s campaign to spread pro-environment messages and help gardeners make wise choices in their own gardens. MSU Extension Master Gardeners will provide smart gardening tip sheets to thousands of guests at Windmill Island Gardens throughout the summer. Topics include intelligent plant selection, soils, vegetables and more. This partnership is sure to inspire gardeners in West Michigan and play an important role in supporting invaluable pollinators.
Windmill Island Gardens seeks to promote three main areas: its connections to Dutch history and heritage, its gardens and its natural surroundings. For a long time, people only knew about the Dutch part of the city park, says Helmus. The staff work to educate the public about all aspects of the park.
Windmill Island Gardens, a garden oasis on the edge of downtown Holland, features more than 80 acres of gardens, levees, canals, an antique Dutch carousel, a nursery, a gift shop and the Posthouse Visitor Center – an exact replica of a 14th-century pathway Inn, more than 100,000 tulips that bloom each spring and dozens of varieties of annuals and perennials and flowers. The centerpiece of the island is the “De Zwaan” (The Swan) windmill, built in the Netherlands in 1833 and brought to Holland, Michigan in 1964.
Windmill Island Gardens is open year round. Residents of the city of Holland can enter the municipal island park for free. Admission for non-residents is $12 for adults and $6 for children 3-15 years old.