Arboretum News

19 Things to do for May 2021

May brings Tulips, Lilacs, Crabapples and more to Arboretum gardens.

COVID-19 Update: All members and visitors need to make a reservation in advance of their visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Find updates and information here.

Tulips are just starting to bloom in this year’s display. Photo taken April 26 by Liz Potasek.

By Liz Potasek

Spring blooms are in full swing. We’re looking forward to the arrival of tulips, crabapples, lilacs and more this month — May is a great time to visit the Arboretum. 

Starting May 1, we’re transitioning to our extended summer hours. The Arboretum grounds will be open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily (including Memorial Day!) and the Oswald Visitor Center and Snyder Building will be open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. We’ve also recently increased the number of daily reservations available and re-opened the Snyder Building and Maze Garden

1. Take in the Tulips.

The Arboretum’s tulip display is an eagerly awaited annual tradition. While a few tulips have started blooming, we expect this year’s display to be in full bloom the first two weeks in May (depending on the weather). Landscape Gardener Duane Otto designed the tulip display to highlight dynamic color combinations, with beds featuring primary colors (red, yellow and blue), citrus (orange, yellow and green), warm and cool colors, and more. Don’t miss the white garden, featuring white tulips blooming under a crabapple tree covered in white blooms, on the front terrace of the Snyder Building.  

2. Watch for May blooms.

In addition to the Tulips, the Lilacs and Crabapples are also staged to put on a show. 

The Lilac Collection at the Arboretum is the Arboretum’s oldest collection, and most of the Lilacs are on the hill across from the Snyder Building near the parking lots. There’s also a display on the Lilac Walk near the Daylily and Lily Collections behind the Snyder Building, but you’ll see them and smell their sweet scent in gardens throughout the grounds.  

You’ll also notice Crabapple Trees in bloom throughout our grounds, but the Crabapple Collection is truly stunning when it’s in full bloom. Three-Mile Walk leads walkers right through the collection, and Three-Mile Drive offers beautiful views of the collection as well. Check out the Crabapple Tour on the Arboretum’s digital map to discover some of the outstanding specimens in the collection. (View the tour by clicking on the stack of boxes in the upper right corner and checking the box for Crabapple Tour in the dropdown menu.)

Watch our What’s in Bloom page, updated weekly, to learn when the Lilacs and Crabapples are at their best and to discover other blooming flowers throughout the growing season.

The May Markets feature a variety of vendors rotating weekly, including (from left to right) Evan Abrahamson, Sweet Love Adornments, Frills: Wood Electrocuted and Created from the Seoul.

3. Shop the May Markets.

Browse through the one-of-a-kind wares of 40 local artists and artisans from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday May 1-2, 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30. The selection changes weekly, but shoppers can expect to find: nature-inspired art, handmade pottery, artisan food, handcrafted jewelry, spa-worthy bath and body products, and more. May Markets are included with Arboretum gate admission, which is free for Arboretum members, $15 for non-members and free for children 15 and younger. Reservations required

4. Take a Trumpet Creeper Tram Tour.

Starting May 6, take a narrated tram tour highlighting the Arboretum’s varied collections, display gardens and demonstration gardens. Buy same-day tickets at the Oswald Visitor Information Desk. Tickets are $20 for a full row of four seats. The tram has been configured to allow for social distancing.

The Maze Garden is open! Photo by Liz Potasek.

5. Play hide-and-seek in the Maze Garden.

The Maze Garden has re-opened for the first time in a year! Children of all ages enjoy getting lost in the twists and turns of this special hedge collection. Access the Maze Garden by starting Three-Mile Walk from the Ordway Picnic Shelter along Green Heron Pond. The Maze Garden is also accessible by car and bike along Three-Mile Drive — just park near the Ornamental Grass Collection, which is your first left after you pass the maze.

6. Get your tickets to Taste & Toast in the Arboretum gardens.

We’re excited to announce the return of Taste & Toast for July 28! Spend an evening in Arboretum gardens sampling food and drink from an amazing lineup of 45 outstanding local and outstate restaurants, wineries, breweries and food trucks. 

Tickets to this popular event usually sell-out quickly, so you’ll want to snap them up as soon as possible. Tickets will be available to members on May 16 and open to the public on May 18. Members, watch your email on May 16 for a special link to purchase tickets. If you’re not an Arboretum member yet, and you’d like to buy tickets early, become a member today to enjoy this special benefit.

7. Enjoy a meal in the great outdoors.

The Arboretum Cafe will likely open later this month with a grab-and-go menu perfect for enjoying in a scenic spot on our grounds. Watch for updates on our blog, eNews and social media once the opening date is finalized!

Hungry guests can also find a variety of snacks and beverages in the Gift & Garden Store and the Arb Beverage and Snack Cart stationed near the Ordway Shelter. Depending on the day (and the weather) food trucks will be parked between the Snyder Building and Oswald Visitor Center.

Guests are also welcome to bring their own food to the Arboretum. Want to find the best places to set up? Check out these 10 spots for the perfect picnic.

8. Make plans to tour private gardens.

The Arboretum Auxiliary Garden Tours are back for 2021, and tickets to the popular tour of private gardens go on sale at 9 a.m. May 3. Join the tours on July 18, 19 and 20, and enjoy beautiful gardens, each with its own history and distinct beauty. Guests travel in air-conditioned motor coaches and tours are followed by a brunch, luncheon or hors d’oeuvres, depending on the day and time of the tour. Tickets are $74 for Sunday tours and $64 for Monday and Tuesday tours; ticket price includes a surcharge for COVID-19 restrictions. All proceeds from tickets support the work of the Arboretum.

9. Buy a chance to win the 2021 Auxiliary Quilt.

The Arboretum Auxiliary’s Quilt Raffle Fundraiser starts May 8 during the Auxiliary Plant Sale at Farm at the Arb. Members of the Arboretum Auxiliary created “Sights and Sounds of the Arboretum,” a quilt that highlights birds of Minnesota. After May 9, the quilt will be on display at the Oswald Visitor Center. Raffle tickets are $2. The raffle drawing is scheduled for September. All money from the sale of raffle tickets supports the Arboretum.

10. Wrap up Mother’s Day in the Gift & Garden Store.

Whether your mom wants to dig in the dirt or surround herself with floral motifs, there’s something that’s sure to make the perfect Mother’s Day Gift in the Gift & Garden Store. The store carries a huge selection of gardening books and tools, fairy garden accessories, indulgent bath and body products, botanical jewelry, home decor, personal accessories and more.

11. Watch the Osprey Cam.

There’s a new pair of Osprey hanging around the Osprey nest at the Arboretum this season. Watch our live stream Osprey Cam to see how the summer unfolds for these two birds. 

12. Find Arb the Tree Gnome.

Starting April 30, Arb the Tree Gnome (and his friends) will be visiting a different tree collection and hanging around interesting trees at the Arboretum throughout the spring, summer and fall. He’ll move around the Arboretum each week, and we’ll update his current location on our website each Friday. When you find him and his friends on our grounds, collect the letters found on each gnome and unscramble them to answer a fill-in-the-blank trivia question. Submit your answers online each week for a chance to win your own tree gnome at the end of the season.

13. Compete in the Scavenger Hunt Tree Trek Challenge. 

Gather a group to navigate the clues and complete the Scavenger Hunt Tree Trek Challenge on May 22 and 23. Up to 72 teams will compete for bragging rights and an Arb tote goodie bag.

Teams can have up to 15 participants with a maximum of three households combined per COVID safety rules. To participate, register your group for the scavenger hunt, and pay the $30 registration fee. Then reserve admission tickets for each member of your scavenger hunt group (be sure to choose a time that aligns with your scavenger hunt time). Admission fees will be applicable to non-members.

14. Register for the Minnesota Plants Summer Webinar Series.

Join local horticultural experts to virtually explore collections, backyards and gardens as you learn to appreciate plants in their peak season, tackle pests and problems with expertise, identify new plants on your hikes, and more! Starting June 1, each weekly webinar includes a 30-45 minute presentation with time for questions along the way. Topics include Foraging in Minnesota, Diagnosing Your Plant Problems, Edible Landscaping and Plant Selection for a Changing Climate. Registration for the Minnesota Plants Summer Webinar Series is  $30 for members or $40 non-member, and it includes live and recorded access to 13 webinars and their accompanying digital handouts and resources.

“Mob Scene,” by Kim Russell, is on display through June 14 as a part of the Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists exhibit in the Reedy Gallery.

15. Bird watch in the Reedy Gallery.

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists, featuring work from Kim Russell and Emily Donovan, will be on display through June 14 in the Reedy Gallery. While inspired by ancient legacies in art, each uses wildly different techniques. Russell is influenced by indigenous imagery resulting in meticulous, highly stylized ink and acrylic drawings. Donovan’s natural hand-dyed paper is created through an exacting process shared by cultures around the world. Throughout her processes, from foraging for raw materials to finished works of art, Donovan maintains a close connection to the land and sky. Both artists ensure the essence of their subjects remain in their finished work, rooted in a shared desire to provide a new perspective of our feathered friends.

16. Tune in for an Artist Talk with Kim Russell.

Join Kim Russell, whose work is featured in the Reedy Gallery’s “Birds of a Feather” exhibit, at 10 a.m. May 8 for a free online Zoom discussion moderated by Wendy DePaolis, the Arboretum’s Curator of Art. Take a virtual tour of the exhibit and learn how Russell combines research and inspiration to capture the essence of each bird. Discover a wealth of fascinating facts about birds’ biology with Russell’s original artwork as a backdrop. 

17. Check out a new exhibit in the Andersen Horticultural Library.

In honor of trees, the library is displaying beautiful woodcut images from the book Traité des Arbres et Arbustres (Treatise on Trees and Shrubs), turning to a new page in the book each week through October 31. While the book is from 1755, the original woodblocks are from 1563. Nineteenth-century nurserymen’s plate-books, laced together to enable turning of several colorful images of trees and fruits at once, will also be featured in each of the library’s display cases.

18. Order an Activity Kit To-Go for kids ages 5-12.

Arboretum Summer Activity Kits To-Go are mailed to you*, packed with self-guided hands-on activities that provide the wonder and excitement of science, nature and the arts! Five all-inclusive kits are offered throughout the summer: Hogswood Forest School of Magic, Let’s Get Growing, Outdoor Adventure Challenge, Seed Starters and Hogswood Forest: Alchemist’s Emergency. *Arb pickup required for the Get Growing kit because of the delicate live plants. Price varies: $60-$130/kit.

19. Share your favorite photos taken at the Arboretum.

In honor of Go Public Gardens Days May 7-16, we’re collecting photos of members and visitors enjoying the Arboretum grounds to feature on our Nature Notes blog. Send your favorite photos (throw-back photos welcome!) to

2 comments on “19 Things to do for May 2021

  1. Pingback: Arb Links, vol. 44 | News from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

  2. Play hide and seek in the maze is an awesome idea. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for writing.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: