Shelterwood Gardens: Our Story


My name is Frank and I am the owner of Shelterwood Gardens. I had been growing native plants from seed as part of the management of our 40 acre woodland property. Often I have been disappointed in the availability of woodland species and several that are difficult to grow from seed. After five years of growing native plants at our place, I decided in summer of 2020 to apply for my grower's license with the MN Dept of Ag to grow and sell MN native plants.

Running the nursery is part love of growing plants, part woodland management, and unique to the trade -part art project. What I love most about native plants is the surprise they bring to the landscape -a community of plants that is ever changing. One of my favorite things to do is roam the woods and prairie plantings with my phone at the ready to snap a picture of whatever plants capture my interest. 

In addition to the seasonal nursery, I am an artist by training and profession. I also manage photography programs at the MN Landscape Arboretum, mentor and teach drawing and photography at MCAD, and am a member of Minneapolis-based cooperative gallery Rosalux where I have a solo show upcoming this November and would love to see you there. In the past I've held a variety of positions from academia to non-profit, gardening to construction, and even had a run as a garden and landscape blogger and garlic farmer.

My wife is the sculptor Betsy Alwin. She grew up working at her mother's nursery growing several native species and most uniquely, native orchids sold at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. She is a descendant of a line of nursery owners, including her grandfather Guy Bush who patented Minnesota Snowflake, the cold-hardy Double Mock Orange. Her father also had a nursery on his third generation family homestead in Mound. It is from there, before it went under the bulldozer, that we acquired our ephemeral propagation stock.

Our long-term plan is to continue woodland management toward the goal of reduced weed pressure, increased wildlife habitat and native plant conservation. Under the Shelterwood banner, we also have a goal to host artists in a woodland studio, offer classes in a variety of subjects from horticulture to sculpture, on site and online. The nursery, however, is the foundational component of this future and we hope you enjoy being a part of it.

Early spring in the woods