“Spirit of place and natural settings are such a trend in horticulture around the world right now,” says Alan Branhagen, the director of operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, “and if the Northwoods isn’t natural to Minnesota, I don’t know what is!”
Returning to its roots, “which is trees, we’re all about trees,” Branhagen says, the third annual Spring Flower Show at the Arboretum, “Branching Out,” dovetails with the Arb’s programming focus for 2020, which is Season of Trees: Returning to our Roots. During the month of February, 10 unique displays highlighting forests from around the world will delight visitors, with the display in the grand hall focusing on the birches and evergreens of Minnesota’s Northwoods.
A Treetop Tower, built by Arboretum craftspeople, is one highlight. The simple form, constructed with metal rings and ropes, has been woven with bark, grape vines, and fabric. “Visitors can walk through it as though they’re traversing a rustic tunnel,” Branhagen says. The structure recycles bits of diseased or storm-downed trees from the grounds.
The cloud forest, resembling a tropical or subtropical forest characterized by low-level cloud cover, will be festooned with mosses, bromeliads, tropical lady’s slippers, and orchids. In contrast, the tropical dry forest will be dotted with wild and thorny succulents. The palm tree oasis (palms are the second largest family of trees in the world) gives the Arboretum an opportunity to discuss with visitors Conflict Palm Oil, which is driving the extinction of orangutans and their habitats.
Another highlight of the Spring Flower Show is the Conservatory Craftsmen glass house, in which aeroponic edible gardens, like those at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show in London, will be featured. Colorful glass bird sculptures by Donna Rice will perch throughout Oswald Visitor Center vignettes. Rice also crafted delightful lady’s slipper sculptures specifically for the Flower Show.
The Spring Flower Show is open February 1 to March 1, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gate admission for non-members is $15, members and kids 15 and under are free.
The Flower Show Preview is Jan. 31, 6-8 p.m. with tours, a program, and appetizers. Program at 6:45 p.m. includes Branhagen, Rice, and Xavier Tavera on his photographic work in the Reedy Gallery exhibition titled “Conectado por la Naturaleza: Twin Cities Inspired Latinx Art.” The exhibition features native trees from Central and South America that live at the Arboretum. $10 members, $20 non-members. Reservations: flowershow.umn.edu