Overture of Spring

By Greg Lecker

A wide variety of birds are singing their overture to spring as I begin hiking. I hear calls from Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee; and flying overhead, Killdeer, a flock of Canada Geese, and a higher pitched distressed sounding call from one of a pair of ducks. Accompanied by this music, I stroll quickly past newly cleared annual beds where the tulips are thrusting their reddish-tinted leaves from towards the sky.

On my travel to the Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden, I notice that Green Heron Pond has opened up. I hear that the ice went out on Lake Minnetonka this weekend. How appropriate that the holidays of Passover and Easter mark the release and rebirth from the dark and cold of winter.

In the woodland wildflower garden, wild leek foliage is up; but as is the habit of this native plant, its flowers will not appear until after the foliage goes dormant. Not only is snow trillium up but it’s blooming – about two weeks earlier than in 2014.

Snow Trillium

Snow Trillium

On my way to the prairie, I’m struck by the forsythia clump. Two weeks ago, buds were just beginning to show a hint of yellow. Now, all the buds are ready to pop. A few buds have opened already!

Forsythia Blooms

Forsythia Blooms

In the Capen Display Garden next to the prairie, Rich and two assistants are clearing the leftover plant detritus from last year.

Cleaning the Capen Display Garden

Cleaning the Capen Display Garden

In this garden eleven months ago, I watched Rich and others transplanting fragile prickly pear cactus rescued from a development site. Rich reminds me to look for the cactus blooming in another month or two. Rich also points out the blooming Pasque Flower.

Pasque Flowers

Pasque Flowers

Rich clues me in on the sites of a number of unusual native plants I’ve not yet found at the Arboretum – inviting me on a scavenger hunt to complete and share with future Nature Notes readers.

Just after leaving these garden guardians, I see in the distance a band of wild turkeys running quickly. Then I notice the cause – a male is strutting in full Thanksgiving mascot fashion. His display and gobbling doesn’t appear to be completely welcomed by his “harem” which is moving away from him.

On my walk through the Shade Tree collection, I notice a recent windfall. The totem marking heights of tree growth over the years has been felled – likely by Wednesday evening’s high winds.

Wind-Fallen Totem

Wind-Fallen Totem

The damage the totem inflicted on a nearby sign reminds one to pay due attention to the severe weather warnings to come this year. I have a feeling that the 2014 drought of tornadoes (about half the average 45) may not be repeated in 2015. Fair warning to us all. Will the spring overture be followed by a calm or a story passage?

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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