Nature Notes

Circles and Snacks at the Sculpture Garden and Beyond

The critter who devoured these seeds – likely a squirrel – strategically pulled off the scales to access seeds and left behind the snack’s “packaging” as evidence.

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By Sydney Chandler

Budding artists might be drawn to the Arboretum’s Sculpture Garden for inspiration, but the field is home to much more than fascinating works of art. There’s lots to learn in the Sculpture Garden; here are just four items to get started:

Snacking at the Siberian Crabapple Tree

1. If you’re snacking on Siberian Crabapples, the best seat is in the fork of the tree. Notice the small red crabapples. They’ve been eaten by small teeth so that the fragile flesh is split open and the juicy center containing small seeds is exposed. Stems have been discarded in the pile that remains, and it appears that this dining location also served other nuts and seeds in the past. What a great view from this seat!

“Summer Dance

2. If you need a change of perspective, Summer Dance by Barbara Hepworth can refocus how we look at the land. Notice the strong color contrast on the Summer Dance sculpture and how it invites us to look through the openings like peepholes in the front door. The peephole focuses what’s visible and cuts away the peripheries. Moving around the sculpture gives different points of focus on the landscape. Can you spot fellow visitors across the field in this viewfinder?

Snacking on a Pine Cone

3. If you’re eating a pine cone, there are delicious treasures hidden under the scales. Notice the many cone scales discarded on the ground. On several scales, there is a perfect pocket for a seed near the connection point between the scale and the central stem. The critter who devoured these seeds – likely a squirrel – strategically pulled off the scales to access seeds and left behind the snack’s “packaging” as evidence.

The Canada Hemlock Story

4. If you need a laugh, there are Canada Hemlock jokes on the Canada Hemlock Story sculpture. Although this sculpture isn’t in the Sculpture Garden, it fits the theme and offers fun facts and family-friendly humor etched into the giant cylinder. Much like the Summer Dance sculpture, it also brings our focus to specific parts of the landscape.

Incidental findings, like those found at the Sculpture Garden, can be great inspiration for more learning. Enjoy your adventure!

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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