Arboretum goes blue for Waterosity

The event at the U’s Landscape Arboretum advocates water conservation.

People dance on water and a pond monster lurks at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, part of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Department of Horticulture . The new art installations are part of âÄúWaterosity: Go Green with a Splash,âÄù an exhibit that opened at the arboretum June 6 . Waterosity educates people on the importance of water conservation. Its three components include âÄúIntriguing Art in the Garden,âÄù which presents the water dancers and pond monster along with eight other large-scale installations; âÄúHarvest Your Rain,âÄù which encourages visitors to rethink how they handle rainwater; and âÄúCutting Edge on Lawns,âÄù which focuses on water-wise gardening and lawn grasses of the future. Sandy Tanck, manager of interpretation and public programs at the arboretum, said the works in âÄúIntriguing ArtâÄù have captured her heart. Chosen in November, the artists ranged from students at Gordon Parks High School to a group of new landscape architects. The architects created one of the most visibly striking works, Global Spydrology, which features vertical metal columns up to 10 feet tall. The columns represent the volume of freshwater consumed per capita each day in 12 countries around the world, ranging from five gallons in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 1,158 in the United States. âÄúWe wanted it to be dramatic,âÄù Sean Jergens , one of the projectâÄôs designers, said. âÄúWhen you are confronted with it, itâÄôs surprising and larger than life.âÄù Bruce LemkeâÄôs âÄúPond MonsterâÄù is dramatic in an entirely different sense. Lurking in the scum of Iris Pond , Lemke intended the monster to âÄúget kids out to the arboretum and in nature.âÄù The âÄúHarvest Your RainâÄù display involves landscaping ideas that creatively utilize rainwater, including rain barrels that catch drainpipe runoff, a permanent green roof where sedum and prairie grass grow on top of a picnic shelter and regulate the temperature within, and a rain garden âÄî a flower-filled bowl-like dip in a lawn that holds rainwater longer. The UniversityâÄôs futuristic prairie junegrass is part of the âÄúCutting EdgeâÄù display. Horticultural Sciences professor Eric Watkins said the grass âÄúuses a lot less water and grows more slowly, so it requires less mowing and fertilizer.âÄù Peter Moe , director of operations at the arboretum, said people take water for granted. âÄúItâÄôs not just for us but for plants and everything else,âÄù he said. Waterosity is one of many steps the arboretum is taking to become more eco-friendly, Moe said. He said the arboretum has reduced its use of pesticides and added a new strategic sprinkler system in the Nelson Shrub Rose Garden a t the end of May to make irrigation more efficient. Waterosity is running until Oct. 4, and is included in the arboretumâÄôs cost of admission, which is free for University students. There is a $9 fee for non-students âÄî a recent cost increase from the $7 entrance fee, which had been in place since 2003.