The Many Names of Arboretum Plants

By Sydney Chandler A name can be a great descriptor, provide historical context, or even convey humor. Some people name a variety of important things: pets, kids, cars, musical instruments, and even plants! At the Arboretum, many plant names stand out and enhance our understanding of that plant. Parrot Tulip The Parrot Tulip has spunk…

Origins

By Greg Lecker The weather is perfect for Mother’s Day.  Under clear blue skies and sun, daffodils, tulips, magnolias and crabapple are blooming.  Along the flowing waterways are blooming clumps of yellow buttercup-like flowers that reflect the color of the sun – marsh marigold. Marsh Marigold There are many possible origins of the name “marigold”. …

Arb on Fire

Each spring and fall, workers at the Arboretum set fire to portions of the landscape. “Fire is an important part of Minnesota natural areas,” says Alan Branhagen, director of operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. “Our prescribed fires are done before grassland birds are nesting, and our later spring burns were only done in areas where…

Rare Finds

By Mary Beth Pottratz Sunlight stripes the woodland as it shines through bare tree trunks and branches. This is the very brief time of year when tiny wildflowers will bloom just until the forest is shaded by emerging leaves. Most are only a few inches tall! False rue anemone White petals of false rue anemone…

Winter’s Last Gasp

By Holly Einess I arrive early at the Arboretum on this decidedly un-April-like morning. Snow covers the ground and the temperature hovers at freezing. Despite the recent step back to winter-like conditions, spring birdsong greets me as soon as I step out of my car. Chickadees are calling “fee-bee” and a dark-eyed junco sings a…

Camouflage

By Greg Lecker Flower gardens are being uncovered; and tulips are sprouting.  Birds are calling and singing:  robins in the woodlands and blackbirds marsh and open forest edges near water.  On this gray day, I search for a bit of green in the woodland. Hepatica Leaves and Flower Buds Joining bronze colored foliage remaining from…

Spring Phenology

By Mary Beth Pottratz Phenology – the timing of events in nature – is evident everywhere today at the Arboretum! A goose loafs on the ice in the sunny wetland. Protected from today’s winds that are gusting up to 32 mph, its mate dabbles in the water nearby. A pile of dried reeds forms their…

Contrasts in a Season of Transition

By Sydney Chandler In this season of transition, contrasts fill the landscape: warmth vs. cold, thawing vs. freezing, movement vs. stillness, and chatter vs. silence. In the spring, we can both observe and experience these contrasts as the natural world awakens. Ice formations on walking trail  Beautiful ice formations and nuances in fallen snow still…

Feathers, Fur, Frost, and Flood

By Greg Lecker As late winter advances day by day, birds are more active.  Cardinals are busily singing here and in the city.  Mallards are returning to my workplace marsh.  Throughout the dark night, neighborhood owls were heard and occasionally could be seen flapping silently between trees.  During my morning walks, I find carcasses of…

Waning Winter in the Spring Peeper Meadow

By Holly Einess With deep snow on the ground and temps in the low 20s, it’s not feeling particularly spring-like as I arrive at the Spring Peeper Meadow. A few splashes of color stand out—the shriveled fruits of the nannyberry (dark blue) and highbush cranberry (bright red), the washed-out red of sumac fruit clusters, and…