Surrounded by spring at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
One of the great joys of living in the north is spring. It's a time of year that makes me feel full of energy, hope, and promise. One warm day leads to tiny sprigs of green grass, leads to the first thunderstorm, leads to the first time you hear the whisper of leaves on trees in the wind.
Minnesota has a landscape arboretum with a notable reputation, and I've wanted to go for a long time. This spring I finally did! The start of the season motivated me to get out there for a visit, coupled with the beginning of the intense, short-lived week of lilac blooms around the state. I got hungry for green, and I found it at the Arb, as it is affectionately called by locals.
My very first impression of the Arb was... lackluster. But let me explain. There's a lot of hype about the Arb--so many people love it. When you think about that for what it is, it's hype about gardens. So there's a limit to the hype, right? It's not like an amazing once-in-a-lifetime concert, or the rollercoaster to end all rollercoasters. The Arb's hype is more like, "Did you see those incredibly huge ferns?" and "The juneberry trees are flowering!" Ironically, this quiet, unassuming type of hype is my favorite.
Surrounding the Arb is a three-mile drive that gives you a roadside view of all the different areas and gardens, so we drove that first. From the car, and in the middle of Minnesota spring when much of the world is in fact still brown, the views were kind of underwhelming. But we were determined to love it as much as friends have told us we would. So finally we parked and started walking.
That's when the magic happened. All of a sudden every sprig, ladybug, sprout, bloom, bush, hedge, tree, grass, moss, was alive and exciting. Everything smelled new and fresh and clean. Greens and whites and oranges and yellows and purples were so vivid and different from one another. All this and we hardly even walked 10% of the acreage available.
We learned a lot, too. I got to learn names of new plants and identify ones I see often. Every single thing that grows at the Arb is labeled by a short metal pole with an embossed metal tag on top. The labels make learning addictive, like a game almost. And the Arb is a place that changes dynamically with the seasons, so at some point I felt like the possibilities would unfold forever.
Our visit coincided with lilac blooms, flowering trees, loads of colorful tulips, and so many kinds of ground cover that I couldn't keep track of them all.
Walking around acres and acres of gardens on foot set this calm in motion in me. Being outdoors and concentrating on natural beauty, the resilience of organic life—there's just nothing better, even when it's just all about hedges.