‘Arb Sightings’ Category

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Fall color forecast looks good… maybe.

A long autumn with sunny dry days and cool dry nights can make for a colorful fall. Autumn in Minnesota is a time of cruel ironies. Any Vikings fan can tell you that. One of autumn’s cruelest ironies is that the beauty of autumn is quickly replaced with the general crumminess of winter. And so, […]

Monarchs Still Holding On!

Earlier this week, I noticed three Monarch Butterflies fluttering outside our windows at the Interpretive Center. They seemed to be having a ball, enjoying the colorful flower gardens. Monarchs, as most of us may know begin as caterpillars. As caterpillars, they must eat constantly in order to grow big enough, fast enough to turn themselves […]

Ragweed and the Afterlife

  Although I have no plans to end up there, I can’t help but imagine what sorts of things might be found in hell.  I am, of course, familiar with the traditional images of fire, ragged clothing, and stalagmites, but I believe that the more mundane forms of punishment would actually be the worst.  I […]

Butterfly populations at historic lows

Monarch Butterfly on goldenrod flower If you’ve seen a Monarch butterfly recently, (or any butterfly, for that matter) consider yourself lucky.  As gardeners, wildlife-watchers and insect-lovers can all attest, there has been a considerable shortage of the graceful creatures in our area so far this summer.  The common yellow sulfurs aren’t so common, and the […]

Don’t get burned by wild parsnip

Although it appears harmless this wild parsnip, combined with sunlight, can cause tremendous skin damage to its unsuspecting victims. Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) grows wild – often in road ditches and abandoned areas – and is a member of the carrot family, closely related to the cultivated parsnips you might grow in your garden. It […]

Pasqueflowers in bloom (finally)

Pasqueflowers in bloom Prairie wildflower season has officially begun.  Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) is the earliest blooming flower on the prairie.  These were just photographed at Kasota Prairie today, and the pasqueflowers near the rock outcrop prairie overlook site in the Arboretum will soon be following suit.  The name means “Easter flower” and these plants usually […]

Junco Madness

This strange heaping of snow has stalled spring and left the dark-eyed Juncos in a frenzy searching for food at the Arboretum bird-feeders. It looks like a bustling bird food court out there! Juncos are a common type of sparrow who are often seen flitting about beneath the edges of trees. They have a light […]

First Day of Spring

No signs of spring in the Arboretum yet.   But don’t worry…  it’s coming.  

Make your own maple syrup — feel like a pioneer

  In an age of grocery stores, dancing celebrities and robotic floor sweepers, we can sometimes feel pretty far removed from our pioneer ancestors.  That’s when it’s nice to be able to do something as rugged and self-sufficient as turning tree sap into food.   Yes, you too can be like the native people and […]

Groundhogs Set to Prognosticate!

Groundhogs (or Woodchucks as they are often called) are a strictly North American species. Having entered the doldrums of winter, it is now, more than ever, that we need a holiday to bolster our spirits.  Thank goodness Groundhog’s Day is nearly here!  Unfortunately, Groundhog’s Day is not nearly as prominent of a holiday as one […]