Join the Insects in Checking Out the Arboretum

By Greg Lecker

Insects abound at the Arboretum – and just the Big Bugs sculptures!  Upon entering the woodland, I notice that the spring blooming woodland poppy has managed a second wave of yellow flowers.  White blooms dancing and towering over green foliage masses attract me to the southern path of the woodland wildflower garden.  Tall plant stalks with large palmately divided (like a hand) leaves end in white flower clusters.   These are glade mallow – monitor these leaves at summer’s end and you’ll likely find the skeletonizing of insects.

Glade Mallow

Glade Mallow

Speaking of insects, their infatuation of my skin is bugging me today.  Not just mosquitoes and flies, but a green colored flying insect.

Another woodland highlight is black cohosh or fairy candles.  Imagine tall two to four foot wiry candlesticks, thin wax tapers, and fern decorated candle-stands; that describes this woodland plant.

Fairy Candles

Fairy Candles

Pagoda dogwood tree berries are growing but are still green – though the berry stems (pedicels) are bright red. American elder is covered in large cascading white blooms that will become dark berries.

Though the woodland is a plain mass of green; Bennett Johnson prairie is entering its bloom cycle.  Drive slowly along Three Mile Drive, and one sees wave after wave of blooms – starting at the boulder retaining wall just past the shade tree collection. Common pink milkweed, black-eyed susan, purple coneflower – these are but a few flowers that brighten the edge of the prairie.  As I walk along the boulders, a chattering chipmunk startles me.

Black-eyed Susan and Purple Coneflower

Black-eyed Susan and Purple Coneflower

Surrounding the David Winton Addition signpost are wild roses that are covered with honey bees and bumblebees.

Bumblebee and Honey Bee

Bumblebee and Honey Bee

If one can afford a few minutes, pull your vehicle into the prairie parking lot and lose yourself by walking along mown prairie paths or the easy trails around the Capen display garden.  Look for butterflies on liatris and showy orange butterfly weed, as well as wild bergamot.

Liatris and Butterfly Weed

Liatris and Butterfly Weed

Walking back to the Sensory Garden via the shady ravine path, I find that the insects have chosen the little stream below.  I check out the exhibit of brush painting in the Reedy gallery.  In the Oswald Building great hall, giant fanciful Venus Flytrap and Sundew sculptural displays describe the insect eating nature of the comparatively smaller – though live – plants growing in terrariums.  Don’t let insects bother you – come appreciate their world!

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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