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Gardens to bloom at Maritime Museum

Drawing courtesy of Ringdahl Architects, Inc. The sketch above shows the plans for the Maritime Gardens, which will be located behind the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum in Alexandria. The gardens include picnic shelters, a band shelter with seating, walking paths and more.

The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum will soon be about more than boats and watercraft.

Starting this fall, landscapers will transform the parcel of land behind the museum into the Maritime Gardens.

The garden area, according to Bruce Olson, director of the MLMM, will be a community gathering place in an educational environment.

The two-to-three-year project will include a lakeside setting along with a variety of educational plantings, walking paths, picnic shelter, band shelter with seating, bocce ball court and a nautical-themed play area for children.

Olson noted that it has to include a water theme because "it is the Maritime Museum, after all."

Most of the project will be done in the first year, and then be fine-tuned over the next couple of years.

"This will be a source of pride for our community," Olson said. "It will be well-known and just another little jewel."

Throughout the planning process of the Maritime Gardens, Olson said the museum has worked with the city of Alexandria and the Parks Department.

"It has been enjoyable working with the city and parks people. They have been very supportive in the upgrading of this parcel of land," he said.

In a letter sent out to museum members, Olson noted that there is already a commitment from a few individuals in the community who have pledged financial support to the project. In addition, several businesses and community organizations have also committed their support for the project.

"It's pretty exciting when people step forward asking how they can help and support the project," said Olson.

The new Maritime Gardens, he added, will tie in beautifully with the Maritime campus.

Olson noted that the picnic shelters, which will be sponsored by local organizations, will resemble the newest building on the museum campus. The shelters will be eight sided and have a red cupola-style roof.

The long-term goal of the Maritime Museum, according to Olson, is to include classrooms with mentorship and restoration opportunities, as well as camaraderie.

Olson called the whole Maritime Museum campus a "feel good, serene, beautiful place."

If organizations, individuals or businesses want to be a part of the new garden area - whether for planning, volunteering or helping with the labor - call Olson at the museum at (320) 759-1114.

More information about the Maritime Gardens will soon be available on the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum's website at