Summer Lovin’ At The Arb

A perfect summer day is within your grasp at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Image by Todd Buchanan/Greenspring Media

Minnesotans don’t just like summer. We live it. If you thought I was going to say “love” you’d have been right as well, because we do indeed love summer, but we really do LIVE it. We soak up every possible ray of sunshine it has to offer, and we do so with a carefree, appreciative zest for our newfound outdoor freedom. One of my favorite places to spend that quintessentially perfect summer day is at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Spread across more than 1,100 acres of natural areas and public gardens, the Arb can understandably seem a bit daunting for visitors at first blush, so try this itinerary on for size. You’ll love it as much as we do.

Morning: Natural habitats

In the quiet of the morning, discover the bog at Green Heron Pond, an “off the beaten track” nature experience featuring a half-mile trail and refurbished boardwalk. Stand in the prairie and hear the sounds of swishing grass and birdsong. Visit Spring Peeper Meadow, a wetland restoration project that is now home to almost 24 species of sedge, grass and wildflowers. Find native plants of the deciduous woodlands in the Wildflower Garden, including Minnesota’s state flower, the Showy Lady’s Slipper.

Afternoon: the gardens & trees

When the sun beats down (and believe us it does), the Gardens and Trees & Shrub Collections serve up respite. The Arboretum is the Upper Midwest’s Center for Plant Conservation for a reason. With thousands of plant labels designed to inspire ideas for visitors’ own backyards, the specialty gardens are home to more than 5,000 plant species and varieties. Tree and shrub collections make up a significant portion of the landscape here. The planting of collections for preservation purposes began as soon as the Arboretum was founded in 1958 and is abundantly evident today.

Evening: art at the arboretum

The wonders of nature, along with the myths and stories about our place in this world, have inspired the sculptures you’ll find here. Created by world-renowned artists, sculptures can be found throughout the grounds in interplay with the magnificent landscape of open countryside, gardens, trees and sky that changes with every season. The new Sculpture Garden, best witnessed in my opinion at twilight, is located at High Point and is dedicated to the 23-piece collection given to the Arboretum by Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison.

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