Designing the Park with
Nature in Mind

The 6th Ward Garden Park is a unique undertaking and collaboration among the City of Helena Parks and Recreation Department, Helena Food Share, Helena Community Gardens, Lewis and Clark County Public Health, Montana Conservation Corps (MCC), as well as residents from the 6th Ward Neighborhood and other Helena residents. This park is different. Come visit and learn how!

How is the Garden Park Different?

•    The Garden Park (or G’ark for short) is a collaborative effort.  
•    It is designed with the idea that we would work with nature.  
•    It is being created primarily with volunteer labor and donations. 
•    And… the Garden Park provides an opportunity to try and test new approaches with the idea that we can replicate successful demonstrations/trials elsewhere.

What does “designing with nature in mind” mean?

The 6th Ward Garden Park was initially designed during a Permaculture Workshop held in July 2013. During the multi-day workshop, participant teams drafted conceptual plans which were revised and melded into a Conceptual Plan for the Garden Park. Another way of looking at “designing with nature in mind” comes from the field of biomimicry.

Biomimicry can be defined as the “conscious emulation of nature’s genius”. What that means for us as we create and plant the 6th Ward Garden Park is that we look to nature for inspiration. We can ask: "What would nature do here?", and design accordingly.

What plants tend to grow best together, and complement each other? What plants tend to need more shelter, and less exposure? What areas might be sunniest? Shadiest? What areas might be drier or more moist? By thinking about the micro-habitats and matching the plantings up with the appropriate habitat, and selecting plants that are well-suited to our climate, we can minimize the need for irrigation and optimize plant growth and a healthy ecosystem.