Arboretum News

Early Spring in Bloom

Early blooms are an important food source for pollinators.

COVID-19 Update: The Arboretum is temporarily closed–even to walkers–until further notice. Find updates and information here.

Even though the Arboretum remains closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, spring is far from cancelled. A small crew of workers reports to the Arboretum daily to maintain the grounds and the gardens. They’re also gathering evidence of the changing seasons to share with us.

Maple trees tapped to collect sap.
Collecting sap from maple trees for maple syrup. Photo by Chris McNamara.

As the maple syrup season comes to an end, Richard DeVries, who manages the Arboretum’s maple syrup production, noted earlier this week that it’s been a record-setting year. “We are at 135 gallons of syrup, and that means we just broke the 2017 record of 130 gallons,” he said. “We still have sap to cook, and we might get more sap over the weekend after the frost expected on Friday night.”

Meanwhile, our greenhouses are filled with pansies.

Pansies in Arboretum greenhouses.
Starting Monday, these pansies will be moved outside to harden off, said Arboretum Director of Operations Alan Branhagen. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

In the gardens, honeybees and native bees have been flocking to early blooms.

These early flowers provide critical early nectar and pollen for honeybee colonies at the Arboretum’s Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center, said Arboretum director of operations Alan Branhagen.

“There are many more species of native bees, many of them specialists on particular native flowers,” Branhagen added. “Those lovely pussy willow catkins will be in bloom shortly, and there are a few willow specialist bees that will be out pollinating them and using the nectar and pollen as the only source of food for their brood next year.”

Cellophane been on snowdrops.
This is a male cellophane bee on snowdrops. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

If you look closely in the gardens, you’ll find small pops of color as early spring bulbs are starting to bloom in the Rock Garden and other locations.

yellow iris
Iris Sunshine. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Flower Record crocus vernus. “These are the largest crocus, but they’re also savored by chipmunks and squirrels, so we have few of them,” Branhagen said. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
siberian squill
Siberian Squill, scilla sibirica. “This is an invasive, so we no longer plant it, and we are removing it from wild areas,” Branhagen said. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Trillium nivale. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
forsythia branch
Northern Sun, forsythia ovata. The very first flowers of this forsythia plant are starting to bloom along the ground. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Ladykiller, crocus chrysanthus, in the Rock Garden. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Advance, crocus chrysanthus, in the Rock Garden. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Cloth-of-Gold, crocus angustifolius, in the Rock Garden. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Romance, crocus chrysanthus, in the Rock Garden. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

There are also some signs of the blooms to come:

virginia waterleaf
Virginia Waterleaf, hydrophyllum virginicum. “One of the best for pollinators when it blooms later in spring,” Branhagen said. “Spring foliage is gorgeous.” Photo by Alan Branhagen.
Magnolia stellata flowers are still dormant. Photo by Alan Branhagen.
tulip foliage
Fire of Love, tulipa greigii, has new foliage, but no flowers yet, in the Rock Garden. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

4 comments on “Early Spring in Bloom

  1. Oh thanks for posting this! I miss being out there to see the early blooms. They are lovely!

  2. Beth Cook

    Thank you for sharing!!

  3. Diane Wattenhofer

    I also am missing my favorite time there, the spring blooms! I have been spying my neighbors yards for what’s growing, lol. Thank you for posting!!

  4. Pingback: Ephemerals and Early Spring Beauties   – Hennepin County Master Gardeners

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