By Greg Lecker
If Easter Sunday’s 70 degree weather demonstrated anything, it is that spring has arrived in the Twin Cities. Even if last week’s and the coming week’s rain and chill lend doubt, today’s photos provide reassurance.
Even before one reaches the front gatehouse, Siberian Squill and Daffodils delight the visitor. A wild turkey and a Canada goose welcomed me to the Arboretum. Adjacent to the sensory garden, the wildflower garden is a gem sparkling in this Saturday morning’s sunlight nestled. Besides the several types of blooming flowers, the many clumps of sprouting foliage foretell of waves of blooms to come.
The Arboretum often leads Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in the emergence of spring ephemerals; and this year is no different. The relatively flat and south-facing Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden warms up a bit faster than the bowl-shaped woodland garden in Theodore Wirth Park.
Often appearing just after snow melts, the first wildflower to bloom is Snow Trillium, one of several different types of trillium. True to the “tri”-root of its name; leaves, bud sepals, and petals all appear in multiples of three. Its foliage is bluish green; petals are pure white; and stamens are yellow. The grassy foliage growing amongst the Snow Trillium is Siberian Squill, a non-native flower that naturalizes any area in which it’s planted. The blue flowers of squill are a nice complement to the white trillium flowers.
Round-lobed and Sharp-lobed Hepatica are an attractive small flower with white, light blue, light violet, or light purple flowers. Liverleaf, another common name for the plant, refers to the multi-lobed foliage, some of which remains evergreen over the winter. Leaves from the prior year are darker and more leathery; new leaves are brighter and more delicate. Flowers, bud sepals, and flower stems are covered in fine white hairs. The delicate flowers of Hepatica shimmy in the slight breeze.
Bloodroot foliage is tightly clasped about its narrow stem, the easier to pierce through forest leaf litter. The plant curls its two-toned lobed leaves, seemingly hiding the richer green top surface for a warmer day. Topped with closed flower buds, plant stalks are lined up in formation like oddly costumed avante garde performers awaiting a bright light cue to make their grand entrance onto the spring forest floor show.
Just as I was about to depart the woodland for the parking lot, I spotted a small clump of creamy flowers that turned out to be Dutchman’s Breeches, which bears flowers that resemble fancy pantaloons hanging upside down to dry. Clothes hung outdoors are sure to get wet over the next week. But sun and warmer weather are sure to follow!
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.