Albert Lea High School completes garden grant project

Published 10:38 pm Friday, June 9, 2017

This spring, Albert Lea High School completed a school arts residency grant that introduced art students to botanical illustration and garden design, according to a press release.

The project, funded by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, allowed the high school to bring in a local garden designer, Dustin Demmer, to teach students about drawing plants that are native to Minnesota and how to create naturalistic garden designs.

Students in drawing classes created native plant illustrations for display at the ALHS spring choir concerts and 2017 graduation ceremony. Art students also actively participated in planting a wildflower garden outside the main auditorium entrance, planting over 1,400 plants with Demmer over the course of two school days. The students enjoyed working outdoors with a local artist, illustrating native plants and beautifying the school.

Albert Lea High School art students created illustrations of flowers and plants native to Minnesota. – Provided

The grant project gave them the ability to create a new curriculum on botanical illustration. Future art students will be able to get outside to draw or photograph the 29 different species of Minnesota flowers and grasses they helped plant. Science classes have also expressed interest in using the garden during their studies of plant and insect life cycles.

According to a press release, the school wanted to thank the students for embracing the project and volunteering to work side-by- side with Demmer on the installation of the garden. School staff encourage the public to watch the garden as it grows and changes throughout the seasons. A prime time to visit is when the meadow blazing star flowers bloom in late August and early September, when the gardens will attract swarms of monarchs in search of nectar.

The activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council due to a legislative appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Dustin Demmer teaches Albert Lea High School students about garden installation. – Provided