I spent the morning surrounded by birdsong at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The chickadee is my spirit animal, or is it spirit bird?
It’s springtime in Minnesota and life is beautiful!
Especially since our very own Minnesota Landscape Arboretum was named The Best Botanical Garden in the country in the 2017 USA Today Reader’s Choice Survey.
Twenty botanical gardens from around the U.S. were nominated by a panel of experts and the Arboretum was voted number one.
I have to admit, I did more than my fair share of lobbying for votes. I’m lucky enough to live about 20 minutes from the Arboretum in Chanhassen, MN, a southwest suburb of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. It’s located just down the road from Minnesota icon Prince Rogers Nelson’s Paisley Park studio.
In fact, Prince enjoyed spending time there.
I have an annual membership, so I can enjoy the arboretum year-round, in my state that celebrates four resplendent seasons, each uniquely gorgeous in its own right. While there’s a three-mile trail that winds its way through the various gardens, an avid gardener or photographer can find small wonders to entertain herself in just one small area on multiple visits.
So even though most spring bulbs and flowering trees are still weeks away from blooming, I visited the garden this morning to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air that April ushered in. Maple syrup was flowing into buckets hung on the trunks of the giant maples and the smokestacks were billowing out long gray plumes at the Maple Sugar House.
Waves of daffodil and tulip leaves stood at attention on every hill, garden and wooded area. In just a few weeks the entire arboretum will be awash in a sea of color and fragrance.
I had planned to join the mothers pushing strollers, retirees and tourists who enjoy daily walks on the 3-mile trail through the garden today.
Instead I got side-lined in the very first garden I came across. I hadn’t been expecting much color, but as it’s my first season as a member, I thought I’d familiarize myself with the various areas, and the plants they contained. It’s always fun to try to identify the early foliage of the perennials as they first poke through the soil. But I was pleasantly surprised to find many pops of color sprinkled throughout the first garden.
I planted my first Iris garden last September, with bulbs from the National Iris Society’s sale at the Arboretum in August. So I was delighted to find these little beauties nestled into the rocks.
Snowdrops are the earliest blooming bulbs to appear on the scene, just as the last snow is melting in March, with the little cups of crocuses following hot on their heels.
Besides hunting for blooms and identifying bird calls, spring is an excellent time to stop and learn something new, that I might normally just breeze by, thinking “oh that’s pretty.” The skeletons of espaliered apple trees stopped me dead in my tracks. The outdoor living garden has a small square paneled on three sides with these ghostly beauties.
Espaliered Haralson Apple Tree – Introduced in 1922 by the U of M
Then there are the gorgeous structural shrubs that flourish year-round and never fail to wow, such as this beautifully sculpted Korean Boxwood. Love the vibrant foliage. I have two miniature boxwood in my fairy garden at home, so they’re a favorite of mine.
Finally when you’re not in a big rush, during the lull before the full spring bloom and its resultant crowds, solitary time in the gardens allows for time to stop and appreciate the beautiful sculpture, art installations, benches and other hardscape features that memorialize loved ones inspired by nature. I thought this was especially poignant.
In addition to the beautiful grounds, the Arboretum features events and workshops year-round. I’m looking forward to Yoga in the Garden, using the On-Leash Trail with 3 energetic terriers, plant sales, and the 20th Annual Bud Break and Daffodil Dash 5K coming up on May 7th.
For more information, visit the Landscape Arboretum website at arboretum.umn.edu.
In whatever part of the world you call home, I hope you take some time this month, to get out and enjoy nature. Your senses, mind, body and spirit will thank you.