Nara Chalet

The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw received a $1,250 grant from the Michigan Wildflower Association to create a native plant garden at the entrance to the City of Houghton’s Nara Nature Park. The garden and accompanying signs will explain why using native plants in landscaping is crucial to the health of the bees, insects, and other animals that form the base of our ecosystems. And, since native plants are adapted to our climate and soil conditions, they are easy to grow! The Keweenaw branch of Wild Ones is assisting with the project.

The Garden Plan

The diagram shows the variety and the quantity of plants that will be installed at the garden. All plants are native to the Copper Country and have been chosen for both their beauty and their value to birds, bees and other insects.

To search the USDA Plants database, click the link below and enter a search term in the box:

Plant List

The Process


The site was mown grass held up by a retaining wall.

The First Step…

was to begin smothering the grass by laying down large sheets of cardboard and covering it with wood chips.

Part One, Almost Done

We are finishing spreading the mulch. You can plant immediately through the covered ground, but it is usually easier to let the weeds die and decay for a few months before planting.

Adding Shrubs

Creeping juniper and bearberry shrubs were the first plants to go in, creating a border along the top of the retaining wall and at the edge of the garden.

Planting time

Volunteers plant the forbs. The yellow line through the bed marks were a trail will be.

More planting…

Second (and third) thoughts

Installing a garden never goes quite according to plan. Here, volunteers ground truth their original design and discuss the plants’ final placement.

The Path

With wood cookies provided by the City of Houghton, volunteers created a pathway through the garden, which will allow visitors to check out the plants up close.

Final step: putting up the signs

Volunteer Liz Gerson installs interpretive signage with her cordless drill.

Next step…

With the front of the Nara Center on track to be a spectacular native demonstration garden, volunteers are casting their eyes the north side of the building as Phase 2 of the project. This is the “before” photo. Stay tuned.