By Mary Beth Pottratz
Wild columbine blooms in huge patches, starting at the entrance to the Arboretum and continuing throughout any wooded spaces. Sunny, breezy and cool make for a great hike!
The woodland birds are giving a concert: common yellowthroats call “wichety, wichety” back and forth. Cardinals repeat “what cheer”, the beautiful blue indigo bunting whistles its sweet melody, and an Eastern bluebird chortles its song from the treetops. A red-eyed vireo sings its three-syllable phrases, and a white-breasted nuthatch laughs at them all.
Virginia waterleaf and Prairie smoke are still in full bloom. Bees are nectaring in the Wild geranium, and newly hatched dragonflies dart about in the sunlight. Raspberry flowers, a tiny delight often overlooked, sport five white petals.
Banks of Canada anemone’s dark green foliage are dotted with single, pure-white blossoms. Pagoda dogwoods have tiers of white flowers. The first few blooms of Wild prairie rose perfume the entrance to the wildflower garden.
The first Spiderwort of the season popped its bud, and Small yellow lady’s slippers are in full bloom. Ostrich ferns and jewelweeds are waist high. Jack in the Pulpit’s are everywhere! A clump of them, all preaching in different directions, makes me giggle.
Showy lady’s slippers plants are knee high, but no buds are formed yet. A single stem of White shooting star stands out in the deep green forest. Celandine poppies, Wild columbine and Red baneberry are already in fruit.
Greek valerian blooms have given way to creamy white fruits. The last few phlox of the season perfume the air with spice. Maidenhair fern glows in a patch of sunlight.
Yellow iris flower along the pond. Golden alexanders are in bloom. The bog around Green Heron Pond is dotted with Horsetail, Sensitive fern and flowering sedges.
Marsh marigolds sport star-shaped fruits with yellow tips. A Viceroy butterfly warms itself on the boardwalk, and a Song sparrow trills from a willow branch. In the distance, a woodpecker drums and a barred owl asks “who cooks for you all?”
I find a Northern green orchid in bud! Smooth Solomon’s seal flowers are about to open. Tamarack needles are 1 to 2 inches long, and their new cones are turning green.
A pair of hairy woodpeckers take turns flying into a hole in a tamarack snag. Their bills are stuffed with wiggling caterpillars or a crunchy bug. I hear their nestlings call for food. One diligent parent sticks its head out the hole, nervously watching for intruders. When the other returns with food, they trade places.
Wild calla are in full bloom along the bog, and I spot a single Downy yellow violet. The American bladdernut is in flower. Some are already turning into the light pods that sway in the breeze.
Another first of the season: I spot a male Ruby-throated hummingbird perched atop a tall weigela shrub! His green iridescent feathers glow in the sunlight. His throat is black. Azaleas glow in the deep shade as I lope down Three Mile Drive. I would just love to stay all day.
Mary Beth Pottratz is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. More information about the Master Naturalist Program is available at http://www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org.