Nature Notes

Garden Guests & Gifts

Come enjoy the painting of Prairie Blazing Star, Whole leaf Rosinweed, Ohio Spiderwort, Narrow-leaved Coneflower, Flowering Spurge and more. Remember to look closely or you might miss a napping garden guest!

Visiting the Arboretum: All members and visitors need to make a reservation in advance of their visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We hope to see you soon!

By Lee Anne Laskey

What a perfect time to come out to the Arboretum! Everywhere I turned today visitors were absorbed in the Arboretum wonders around them. Families and friends, young and old were experiencing the colorful gardens and grounds by car and foot. I loved seeing walking groups on the trails, hearing the laughter of children in the maze, seeing family picnics taking place and watching photos being snapped left and right.

My visit began on the Wood Duck Trail. I woke with the cheery chickadees to the sunlight warming us in hazy skies. I couldn’t wait to hike up the hill to the pretty prairie scene. Today, I loved the interesting, dried purple pods of the baptisia (wild blue indigo) scattered and swaying in the breeze. I watch a bumblebee feasting on the rich nectar of Hoary Vervain’s lavender spires.

A bumblebee breakfast

I spot in the distance, across the road, the towering Compass plant, reaching for the sun. It is in the aster family. The name comes from the fact that the leaves have a tendency to orient themselves on a north-south axis.

Compass plant reaching for the sun

They seem to greet me before the eye candy of purple, yellow and white prairie bloom varieties ahead. Come enjoy the painting of Prairie Blazing Star, Whole leaf Rosinweed, Ohio Spiderwort, Narrow-leaved Coneflower, Flowering Spurge and more. Remember to look closely or you might miss a napping garden guest!

Treefrog tucked in a cozy coneflower leaf

As I sit on the comfortable bench, listening to the flowing water around me, I get a tickle of a grasshopper group springing up and camouflaging themselves on the paver stones. They are a favorite at home with my dog Jo, who seems to think she will be able to actually catch them.

Further along the trail, the “Red Heart” crabapple trees are drooping with gorgeous fruit! This is an upright, rounded tree with toothed green leaves and fragrant, long lasting blooms in the Spring. Stop to see its fruit sporting watercolor hues this week.  I tuck myself under the branches for some shade and admire the nearby birdsong.

“Red Heart” crabapple tree

I scoot over to the patch of Spotted Beebalm (Spotted Horsemint). The Great Black Wasps, with their blue-black wings are not interested in me, but are swarming these unusual pagoda-style flowers that fascinate me.  I was hoping to catch them in action and spend awhile observing them.

Great Black Wasp enjoying Spotted Beebalm

I continue down the trail and find a Cicada sauntering by my feet, its wings shimmering and eyes bulging. A swallowtail seems completely content on the Joe-Pye weed, growing gracefully off the path.

Swallowtail on popular Joe-Pye weed

I peak in at the Dahlia Trial Garden, see what in the All American Selections area like the watermelon Mambo and Green Light Cucumber. The names alone are fun to examine.  A group of Nuthatches fill the pines by the parking lot. They seem to be laughing as always and in great spirits too here.

Before I must leave, I must also to go say hi to the regular turtle on the bridge of course & admire the new warmth of goldenrod varieties blooming along the boardwalk. I steal a second with a hummingbird enjoying a few vibrant blooms. It’s always hard to leave, but I’m so grateful that I took time to visit today! What garden guests & gifts are waiting for you to discover?

Lee Anne Laskey is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

3 comments on “Garden Guests & Gifts

  1. Love the tree frog photo, Lee Anne!

  2. Pingback: Arb Links, vol. 50 | News from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

  3. Deb Quinlan

    Your writing and photos inspire me to get outside! Wish I could visit the arboretum today 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: