District 10 Como Community Council

Know Your Como: The Little Things Are the Big Things

Know Your Como: The Little Things Are the Big Things

By Sonjie Johnson

“Duck Point?” I ask the man transplanting a brown-eyed Susan in an area adjacent to Como Lake’s East Como Blvd parking lot. His name is Alfred Kauth and he says that this is the Duck Point Garden.

Alfred explained that Duck Point is the name of the long, narrow peninsula on the east side of the Lake. The garden that he and his wife tend is comprised of native plants and called Duck Point Garden. It runs along the edge of the sidewalk, down the boulder path to the peninsula. A Monarch Waystation sign sits at the top of the garden, below a sign that reads “This garden is maintained for the enjoyment of all by Alfred & Sharon Kauth and Joe Crowe.”

Along with Joe Crowe from Wild Things, (a national organization that promotes planting native pollinators) Alfred and his wife, Sharon are Como Lake volunteers who work to preserve the natural habitat in that section of the lake front. They’ve been working in that garden for 10 years and spend roughly 30 hours a year planting, culling and tending.

An intern originally designed the native plant garden. Although they get some plants from the Park Department, Sharon and Alfred also transplant many native plants grown in their home garden. In the spring they bring spring ephemeral plants, like trillium, wild ginger, rue anemone, as well as seeds. Later, they tend the summer and fall plants, many of which have also been harvested from their own gardens. They weed out invasive plants and encourage the growth of native ones. More than 50 native species of plants currently grow in this area. The three gardeners are currently nurturing a Hackberry tree and a number of volunteer oaks. “If you believe in eternity,” Alfred says, “plant an oak tree.”

A visit to the Kauth’s gardens at their home in Como Park was delightful. The grounds are a wonder of greenery. Winding stone paths, bird baths, feeders, and foliage cover the entire lot. A large, orange Cana Lily stands in front of a gazebo, but most of the other plants are native, grown from seed or gotten from other native growers. Trillium, bee balm, blazing star and Brown-eyed Susan were the only plants I recognized. They showed me bellwort, bloodroot, wild ginger – all of them to be transplanted to Duck Point Garden as they multiply. Alfred installed five 55-gallon rain barrels that provide water for the plants in their gardens. Sharon does most of the walkway design.

“The little things are the big things” might be the best description of the week by week, year by year work that the Kauths and other volunteers do to nurture and restore to
Minnesota native plants to their natural places at Como Lake.

Just when I think I know Como Lake, another fascinating detail presents itself. Duck Point. Who knew?

Do you know some interesting history about your home, your neighbor or about the Como neighborhood? Anyone is welcome to do an interview, share historic photos or do a write up for the Know Your Como segment of our newsletter! For more information on how to submit go to our Know Your Como page.