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Indiana State Museum Turner Garden


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Service Learning Project



Backup Date: 


Work Day Description:  We will work with Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society (INPAWS) performing trail and prairie maintenance at Turner ardens at the Indiana State Museum.  Activities include mulching the trail, and (if time permits) transplanting native plant species.

Meeting Location:  We will meet at the Turner Garden located in front of the Indiana State Museum above the underground parking garage north of Washington Street.  Please park on the IUPUI campus and walk 1/4 mile to the Indiana State Museum or park in the underground parking garage.  This garage requires you to pay a parking fee.

Participants must wear clothes appropriate for outdoor field work.  Long pants and closed toe shoes are required (NO Crocs or Keens).  Water, granola bars, gloves, and equipment will be provided.

Indiana State Museum Turner Garden Overview

In 2002, the current location of the Indiana State Museum was completed and two garden areas were created on its grounds: the Watanabe and Turner Gardens.  The Watanabe Garden stretches from the Museum entrance drive, down to the canal.  A mixture of prairie and shade tolerant native plants were planted in this garden to represent the varied plant communities found in the state.  The Turner Garden is located above the underground parking garage in front of the museum just north of Washington Street.  This garden was planted entirely in native prairie plants and was intended to be a microcosm of an Indiana prairie, such as would have been historically present in northwestern Indiana.

This service project will assist with the continuing efforts by the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society to maintain and/or update these two gardens.  Each of the two gardens faces different challenges.  The character of the Watanabe Garden has changed since planting in 2002.  Small trees included with the planting have matured, causing areas that were originally full sun to become areas of shade.  In addition to normal ongoing maintenance of the garden, there is a long term project to change the planting plan to reflect this shift in plant canopy from sun to shade.  Activities in this location will assist with the annual removal of non-native weeds and the transplanting of plants to reflect current garden sun/shade conditions.

The Turner Garden has faced challenges associated with the absence of maintenance for several years.  This garden has become invaded with non-native, invasive weeds.  Another challenge is the extremely shallow soils located on top of the parking garage.   Few prairie plants can tolerate the shallow soils due to the tendency of these plants to have deep root systems which enable the plants to access water during dry conditions.   Shallow soil depths are not typical of a natural prairie and thus provide a challenge to maintaining this replica prairie garden.  There is currently an ongoing effort to restore the garden to a mini replica of an Indiana prairie.  Activities at this garden will include placement of wood mulch on an existing trail through the garden and transplanting of native prairie plants to help restore a more diverse plant community that would have been more typical of a native Indiana prairie.

More information on the Indiana State Museum can be found at their website

More information on the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society (INPAWS) can be found at their website

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