By Liz Potasek
We’re so ready to slide out of winter right into spring: March is a month of lovely transitions at the Arboretum!
We’ll mark our new daylight savings hours on March 13 by extending our grounds and building hours. The Arboretum grounds are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. through March 12, and starting March 13, the grounds are open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Buildings are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through March 12 and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. starting March 13.
We hope you’ll join us this month as we celebrate maple syrup season, look for signs of spring, hike under a full moon, get inspired by art and more.
1. Celebrate Maple Syrup Season.
Make your reservations to join us for the annual MapleFest Pancake Breakfast from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. March 19. Enjoy your pancakes in the MacMillan Auditorium or pre-order your pancakes to go, and then head outside to learn about how maple syrup is made. Tickets are $16 for members and children ages 11-15, $21 for non-member adults, $11 for children ages 3-10 and free for children age 3 and younger.
2. Watch for Early Signs of Spring.
Every year is different, but we always start watching for signs of spring early as we explore the Arboretum grounds. As the snow begins to melt, Snowdrops make their appearance. These delicate flowers, grown from bulbs, are among the first visible blooms of the season.
The first large shrub/small tree to bloom each season at the Arb is the Ozark witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). It’s small, spidery blooms might be easy to miss if you don’t know to watch for them. Look for them on trees in the Home Demonstration Garden and at the very end of Three-Mile Walk near the Ordway Picnic Shelter this month.
Watch for the fuzzy buds on Magnolia trees, which are a sign of the showy flowers we expect to see sometime around mid-April. On the Bog Walk, watch for fuzzy, pre-bloom pussy willows in late March. Pussy willow (Salix discolor) is the first to bloom (typically in early April) followed by Bebb Willow (Salix bebbiana). These serve as a critical first pollen and/or nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects.
If there’s still plenty of snow on the grounds, check out our winter trail conditions, as well as the conditions on Three-Mile Drive, before you head out for a walk, snowshoe, ski or drive.
3. Stretch into a new season.
Join us at the Arboretum’s Spring Yoga Retreat from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 20 in the MacMillan Auditorium. Mark the first day of spring at this joyful, half-day yoga retreat. Reservations are $35 for Arboretum members and $50 for non-members.
In addition to the yoga retreat, join us for yoga classes at the Arboretum at 10 a.m. March 6 and noon March 17. Classes are available in person and via Zoom. Learn more about our yoga classes and register for a class.
4. Hike under a Full Moon.
Hike under March’s Full Worm Moon during this special after-hours event. (The worm moon gets its unique name because earthworms begin to resurface at this time of year.) Take a self-paced hike from the Sensory Garden parking lot to the Farm at the Arb and back. March evenings can be chilly, so warm up around one of the bonfires at either end of the hike. Tickets are $5 for members and children ages 15 and younger and $20 for non-members.
Tickets are also available for April’s Full Pink Moon Hike.
5. Watch for birds and animals.
As you hike the Arboretum grounds, notice signs of animal life. On a recent walk, we identified multiple animal tracks in the snow, as well as other signs of animals.
Explore the Johanna Frerichs Garden for Wildlife to learn about ways to make your own yard and garden more friendly to animals, and check out the nearby Crabapple Collection to see who’s still dining on last season’s crabapples. (Both the Garden for Wildlife and Crabapple Collection are accessible along Three-Mile Walk.)
Make a list of all the birds you find on the grounds or download this bird checklist. Many birds at the Arboretum like to visit the bird feeders we’ve set up outside the Arboretum Cafe, as well as natural food sources, like crabapples and spruce cones.
6. Check out the Reedy Gallery’s latest show and meet the artists.
Meet the three artists, Kathleen Krishnan, Alison Price and Mary Welke, featured in the Reedy Gallery exhibition, “Reflections from Our Natural World.” The artists will discuss their work from noon-2 p.m. March 13 in the Reedy Gallery. Learn more about their reliance on nature for inspiration, observe the breadth and diversity of their works and chat with the artists.
“Reflections from Our Natural World” is on display March 9 through May 2. The show serves as a reminder: If we look closely, nature can inspire awe with her beauty, provide solace, conjure memories and educate us.
7. Shop for Arboretum Experts’ Seed Selections.
Three of our expert horticulturists – Director of Operations Alan Branhagen, Landscape Gardener Duane Otto and Landscape Gardener Ted Pew – are sharing their favorite seeds, which are for sale in the Arboretum’s Gift & Garden Store. Stop by the store to purchase their selections, which include annual flowers, fruits and vegetables and pollinator-friendly plants.
8. Observe “Nature: Near and Far” in the Cafe Gallery.
In “Nature: Near and Far,” which is on display through April 3 in the Cafe Gallery, explore artistically rendered plants and flowers up close and far away. Cathy Menssen and Carl Nelson, two artists with a passion for nature, work in dramatically different styles to create their interpretations of the plant world.
9. Dine in the Arboretum Cafe.
Whether you’re fueling up for an outdoor adventure or settling in to sip some tea and watch the birds, find a variety of soups, sandwiches, salads, baked goods and more from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays in the Arboretum Cafe.
10. Get inspired by birds.
The Andersen Horticultural Library’s new exhibit, “The Art of Flying: Bird Images from A to Z,” opens March 26 and showcases its stunning collection of bird prints – two birds for every letter of the alphabet. Start in the Skyway Gallery and follow the birds and letters all the way to the Andersen Horticultural Library.
Featuring 52 beautifully illustrated species of birds, mostly from John Gould’s seven volume masterpiece “The Birds of Asia” (1850-1883), this is a magnificent display of feathers you won’t want to miss. This multimedia exhibit is fun for the whole family, and will also feature ambient bird songs playing over speakers as you explore, general bird fun facts throughout, and some of British artist Edward Lear’s bird-related nonsense limericks and illustrations.
Once you’re in the library, make sure to check out another exhibit opening March 26, “Journey through Japan: Traditional Woodblock Prints.” Feast your eyes upon brilliant Japanese woodblock flora and fauna art from the Edo Period (1603-1868), a time in Japanese cultural and political history of relative peace and stability. This period provides the inspiration for the Arboretum’s Japanese Garden and is characterized by the innovation of artistic techniques, such as colored woodblock printing. All prints in this exhibition are from the Andersen Horticultural Library’s rare book collection.
Both shows will be on display through Aug. 12.
11. Make your reservations to shop the Arboretum Plant Sale.
Free reservations for the Arboretum Plant Sale will be available at 9 a.m. March 30. This year’s plant sale is open to the public by reservation only on May 7 and 8 at the Farm at the Arb.
12. Start training for the Bud Break 5K.
Registration is open for the Arboretum’s Annual Bud Break 5K on May 1. Secure your spot as inspiration to start training for the 5K – whether you plan to race through the course at full speed or take a leisurely stroll.