Nature Notes

Wrinkled Leaves Escape their Miniature Suitcases

By Sydney Chandler

Miniature leaves and petals this week resemble wrinkled clothes unpacked from tiny suitcases. Leaves unfold and deepen in color. Flower petals peel outward in synchronized formation.


There is a particularly stark contrast between the new growth of the Sensory Garden and the bare stems of the Wilson Rose Garden. Bursting peony buds at the Sensory Garden are an attraction for ants as well. They trace frantic paths around the spherical buds of the Pink Princess Peonies. After the ants’ excitement, the Rose Garden feels like a ghost town.

Pink Princess Peony

A short meander to the Woodland Azalea Garden offers azaleas at various stages of growth. The Rhododendron ‘Lilac Lights’ Azalea has particularly interesting petals: wrinkled to resemble loosely balled-up paper. Looking around, there is a range of textures: several flowers are smooth, ridges appear on some, and others are already wilted.

Rhododendron ‘Lilac Lights’ Azalea

It’s exciting to see the progress of leaves and petals as they unfold this spring. As others begin to open throughout the season, what different methods of unfolding will appear?

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer

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