Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Into the woods & among the flowers at Grams Regional Park June 30, 2021

Into the woods via a boardwalk at Grams Regional Park, Zimmerman, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

AFTER MULTIPLE VISITS to Grams Regional Park, Randy and I feel comfortably familiar with this 100-plus acre natural area. The Sherburne County park in Zimmerman has become a lunch-time stopping point on our way to a family lake cabin south of Crosslake.

Flowers bloom in a Native Pocket Prairie Garden at Grams. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

We exit US Highway 169 onto county road 4, drive a short way, then turn left and snake back to the park across the road from Lake Fremont. Here, among the oaks, we eat our picnic lunch before stretching our legs.

Into the woods at Grams Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

The park features two miles of trails and boardwalks in a diverse landscape of open natural space, oak forest, tamarack bog and wetlands.

Wildflowers bloom in the woods in mid-May. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
An overview of those same purple flowers. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
Flowering in the Native Pocket Prairie Garden. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

We’ve enjoyed the wildflowers of spring, the wild raspberries of summer and the flaming hues of autumn here in this quiet natural setting.

I appreciate this aspect of the park. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
Beautiful prairie flowers in the garden. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
A flowering prairie grass in the prairie garden. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

On our most recent stop in late May, we met a couple, Connie and Dale, lunching at the same picnic table we’d used prior to a hike through the park. It was a chance meeting which turned out to be a history lesson. Connie’s grandparents moved onto this land in 1919. She grew up here and eventually convinced her mother to sell the property to Sherburne County. The county, according to information on its website, acquired the park land from Howard and Marvel Grams in 2002.

A work in progress at Grams Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
Spotted while walking in the park. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
Photographed in an educational/play space for kids. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

Had the property not been sold to the county, it would have become a housing development, Connie said. I could hear her gratitude that the Grams family legacy is one of a park and not of houses. I shared how much we enjoy this natural space.

Another found, painted stone in the park. Love this. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.

Connie also pointed to a nearby 200-years-plus-old oak tree, now under study. I couldn’t help but think how an oak often symbolizes a family tree. The Grams family may have owned this land at one time and grew their family here. But now the branches have spread to include the broader family of those of us who appreciate this place among the oaks.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

10 Responses to “Into the woods & among the flowers at Grams Regional Park”

  1. Ruth Says:

    The flowers so wild and lovely. A perfect refuge. Wonderful it didn’t become a housing development.

  2. I enjoyed sharing your walk! I love it when I find the odd painted rock. So uplifting!

  3. jmnord35@charter.net Says:

    Purple flower could be Jacob’s ladder.

    joan

  4. Beautiful 🙂 Makes me want to escape to the natural. Recently here the citizens in our little hamlet rallied the city officials to preserve a long standing family’s land. The citizens did not really see (or want) a housing develop raised on this land. Operation preserve will be coming – thank goodness! It will take a few years, however; the land has been saved for the citizens to use for a natural space. I see a beautiful memorial garden for the matriarch who has done so many good things over the years for the community. I cannot wait to explore this land – has been a mystery since we moved into the neighborhood. Happy Exploring – Enjoy!

  5. Tim Dolan Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and your connection with one of our Sherburne County Parks.

    I’d consider our current park system to be in its infancy here in Sherburne County, however our current County Board has been making substantial strides and investment to bring it closer to maturity.

    Our parks system is focused on preservation and providing a natural escape for our citizens and visitors to connect with our unique location on the oak savana boundary. Sharing our natural resources through parkland preservation is a wonderful community legacy, however we don’t often receive feedback from visitors and passers-by.

    Thank you again for visiting our community and sharing your appreciation and perspective. I hope you’re able to visit our other parks over time, including the steadily progressing Great Northern Trail, as well as what we hope to be our newest addition, a 300+ acre natural park on the northern shore of Elk Lake just outside of the cities of Becker and Clear Lake.

    We love visitors!

    With neighborly appreciation,

    Sherburne County Commissioner Tim Dolan

    • Tim, thank you for taking the time to share more information about Sherburne County’s park system and your objectives. I, for one, appreciate all you are doing to provide natural escapes and to preserve natural areas via parks.


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