Nature Notes

A Visit on the Down-Low

A little bit of imagination, and a typical visit to the Arboretum becomes a covert mission!

COVID-19 Update: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open by reservation only. Find updates and information here.

By Sydney Chandler

A little bit of imagination, and a typical visit to the Arboretum becomes a covert mission! It’s important to keep this adventure “on the down-low” because it’s top secret, but also because it’s all about exploring close to the ground!

On the Edges of the Trail

Phase One of this mission involves sneaking along the edges of the paved section of the Three Mile Walk just beyond the Shade Trees. Fallen seeds and leaves line the path. The trail extends far off into the distance, and it’s a great spot for a quick snack in the shade. But don’t let the crunching of these dry leaves expose the mission!

In the Sweet Potato Leaves

The next stop in this adventure requires donning a purple cape as camouflage! The undersides of the thick Sweet Potato leaves have a beautiful purple color, so a special cape will be ideal. Sneaking under and through the leaves gives an up-close inspection of the intricate veins of each leaf and the tiny hairs that line the leaf stalks.

Under the Grapes

On to the penultimate phase of the mission: casting a gaze upward! The trellis that displays these grapes reaches over the walking path and offers an immersive, shady, leaf-filled kaleidoscope to step into. Sunbeams sneak between leaves, vines, and grapes. It will require quick scurrying up the thin vines to reach the juicy prizes above!

Around the Prickly Pear Cactus

The most challenging phase of the mission is last: evading a rather prickly situation! The stone retaining wall in this garden has not contained the Prickly Pear Cactus, and it overflows toward the sidewalk. Successfully passing this final challenge requires an acrobatic leap and well-timed roll!

What top secret mission brings you to the Arboretum? Perhaps the green cape in the back of your closet will inspire a color-themed mission? Or the small action figure that sits on your shelf? Let the adventures begin!

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer

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