Nature Notes

Bright, Breezy, and Beautiful

As I near the end of my walk, I venture out onto the boardwalk, where I’m surprised to find marsh marigold in bloom! Usually associated with early spring, this plant can sometimes re-bloom in autumn.

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 Holly Einess

It’s a bright, breezy, beautiful fall day, the kind that lifts spirits and lures people outdoors to soak up the sun and autumn color. Three-Mile Walk is my plan, but I first stop to look out over Green Heron Pond, where a blaze of red foliage glows in the distance.

Autumn blaze

Goldfinches twitter madly as they fly about near the Sensory Garden, landing to balance on dried flower stalks swaying in the breeze. Two gray squirrels chase each other up a tree, embracing on a large branch before tumbling and rolling out of sight. Maple leaves in red, yellow, and orange dot the forest floor, and I take a moment to gather a few.

Maple leaves

In the Prairie Garden very few plants are still in bloom; most everything has gone to seed. The dark pods of wild indigo, when split open, reveal the seeds within.

Wild indigo seed pod

While some plants simply drop their seeds, others have devised ways to disperse them. The seed heads (or burs) of burdock, for example, have bracts with little hooks on their ends, which catch onto the fur of passing animals (or the clothing of humans) and get carried far from the original plant. Many fruits are enticing to birds, who eat the flesh and pass the seeds through their digestive tracts, again far from the parent plant. Still other plants, such as goldenrods, asters, and milkweeds, rely on wind to carry their seeds far and wide.

Milkweed pod

The pine walk is especially lovely today. Sights (varied shapes and sizes), scents (tangy!), and sounds (swooshing of wind through needles) combine to create a multi-sensory experience. A flock of dark-eyed juncos, outer white tail feathers flashing, flutters suddenly up from the ground. The birds were invisible until take-off, and manage to disappear again into the trees. One after another they return to the ground, scratching about for seeds and insects. These birds have just recently returned from breeding grounds farther north; some will spend the winter here, while others will continue farther south.

Dark-eyed junco

As I continue walking, the red barn of Farm at the Arb comes into view. Goldenrod is still blooming in the open, sunny fields, and I stop to examine a dark spot on the yellow blossoms. It turns out to be a jagged ambush bug, so named for its habit of sitting and waiting for other insects to come along (primarily small bees, moths, and flies), then grabbing and eating them.

Jagged ambush bug

As I near the end of my walk, I venture out onto the boardwalk, where I’m surprised to find marsh marigold in bloom! Usually associated with early spring, this plant can sometimes re-bloom in autumn.

Marsh marigold

The trees around Green Heron Pond display all the fall colors. Sunlight glistens on the water. An autumn meadowhawk flies by. I call my day complete, heart full and spirits renewed.

Holly Einess is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

5 comments on “Bright, Breezy, and Beautiful

  1. Gee you are good, Great words and Great Photos. By the way. rumor has it that when DEJuncos return, snow falls in 3 weeks

    • Holly Einess

      Thanks so much!! I had not heard that rumor about juncos–Interesting! Will be fun to see if it turns out to be true this year! I have a birding friend who swears that in the spring, if the juncos are still hanging around, we’re going to get more snow. Once they’re gone for the season, so is the snow…

  2. That was lovely, Holly. Thank you for taking us with you.

  3. Pingback: Arb Links, vol. 53 | News from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: