Celebrate Spring at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Let’s just ignore the late-season snow forecasts and cold and just dream of spring’s coming blossoms. That’s what the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum hopes you will do in the coming weeks.

The largest public garden in the upper Midwest, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is in the final stages of preparation for its colorful bloom displays, which will begin in about a month’s time: late April.

First to appear will be the bright yellow and while daffodils. Following the spring wildflowers will be a burst of tulips in vivid colors. The numbers can help define the palate: 37,000 tulips in 103 varieties. For this year’s bloom display, landscape gardener Duane Otto was inspired by the late Gertrude Jekyll, acclaimed English cottage-garden style designer and author of books such as Wood and Garden and her most famous book Colour in the Flower Garden. At the time of her death, Jekyll had designed more than 400 gardens in Britain, Europe and a few in North America.

Otto borrowed from Jekyll’s color-block designs, dedicating equal portions of color for each spectrum when planning the garden. Adding to the carpets of tulips are 6,000 pansies, 1,100 hyacinths and 800 alliums. “This time of year, we are starved for color,” says Otto. The intensity and brilliance of the light shining through the tulip petals will give off a sheen and glow.”

Sunrise Luminosity, courtesy of Minnesota 
Landscape Arboretum, © Peter Juhl

For those who can’t wait for the tulips, there are other activities open to the public at the Arboretum. On Saturday, April 5, the Restaurant Gallery of the Arboretum’s Visitor Center will open Center of Gravity II, a photo exhibit of truly gravity-defying rock structures created by Twin Cities artist Peter Juhl.

For nearly two decades, Juhl has been creating and photographing these temporary rock structures. Part performance art, part sculpture, these rock creations are made using only weight, shape and friction to create one-of-a-kind creations—no glue, magnets, or anything else to keep them in place. Many of the arrangements were created with stones found along the North Shore. Some may last for a few hours, while others remain only long enough for a photo.

“A good magic trick presents what we know to be a deception and makes us want to believe it’s real,” says Juhl. “A good balanced rock sculpture does the opposite: We know it’s real but we want to believe it’s a trick.”

Center of Gravity II, which includes 34 photographs, will remain on display through May 17. Juhl will be on hand at the Arboretum to sign copies of his book, Center of Gravity, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on April 20. And if you really want to know how he does it, he will lead rock-balancing classes at the Arboretum on May 17, June 28, and Aug. 23. He will demonstrate his balancing skills April 5, 13, 26, and May 3.