Sweet Summer Surprises

By Mary Beth Pottratz Cardinal flowers Bright red cardinal flowers greet me at eye level in the sunny prairie. Flowering spurge, also known as false baby’s breath, blooms in white clouds. I avoid touching the plant and its irritating sap, but I know the birds love its seeds. Tiny slivers of golden petals are starting…

Primary Colors

By Greg Lecker All around me, the foliage is lush and thick and dripping with water from yesterday’s rains – especially in the woodland.  Green foliage is all around.  At the edge of forest are medium height spikes of blue flowers.  These are bellflowers – but not the purple European bellflowers that are weeds in…

I Spy with My Little Eye

By Sydney Chandler The game of ‘I Spy’ challenges us to notice details around us and describe them in new ways. It was fun to recently overhear visitors at the Arboretum exclaim “Wow, I’ve never seen that before!” as they paused to observe details around them. So here’s a few I Spy items to watch…

Arboretum Web Extra: Gardener Jenny Thull’s Favorite Squash Recipes

Arboretum gardeners John and Jenny Thull grew 325 varieties of cucurbita (pumpkins, squash and gourds) at the Arboretum this year, and Jenny has cooked with every one of them to see how they taste. As a trained chef, she’s also researched squash recipes from around the world and developed a variety of recipes to highlight…

Lake Tamarack Explorations

By Holly Einess Today I’m eager to check out the Arboretum’s new Lake Tamarack property. I drive one mile west past the Arboretum entrance on Hwy 5 and take the first right on a little gravel road just past Minnewashta Parkway [400 Arboretum Blvd., Victoria, MN 55386]. A small parking lot, a couple of old…

Summer Respite

By Mary Beth Pottratz Bright sunshine and few clouds are welcome relief from the oppressive rain and humidity of the past weeks. And the prairie is magnificent today! Rattlesnake master Rattlesnake master is about to blossom. This unique plant has been classified as a special concern species by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. An…

Observations One Through Ten

By Sydney Chandler Sometimes a day of exploring yields a choppy list of things that make us say “Wow!”. For this collection, the prevalence of young explorers have inspired that this be a numbers-based list of observations. At any age, noticing numbers in nature is a fun way to deepen observations! One: A lone path…

Fruits of Summer

By Greg Lecker Heat and humidity have accompanied the ripening of summer.  Grasses and cattail have obscured all old wet meadow growth surrounding Green Heron Pond.  Along the bog boardwalk and especially in the newest plantings adjacent to it;  fast-growing vegetation towers over the paths.  Water is high and covers portions of the “corduroy” logs…

Insects in the Prairie

By Holly Einess I start today’s hike intending to walk around Wood Duck Pond, but a sign tells me the trail is temporarily closed (due to wet conditions, no doubt). So instead I take Wood Duck Trail straight to the prairie, arriving there none too soon, as the mosquitoes near the pond are fierce and…

Summer’s First Treasures

By Mary Beth Pottratz Overcast skies and an occasional mist greet the second day of summer today. Cloudy, damp days are wonderful for exploring the natural habitat areas at the Arb! Gray dogwood The wetlands around Green Heron Pond have come to life in the last few weeks. Willows bear light green leaves. Gray dogwood…