I was fortunate to recently join in a walking tour of the Green Heron Pond wetland led by Sarah Rademacher, the Arboretum’s Wetlands Horticulturist. Here’s a sampling of what I learned:

The Green Heron Pond wetland comprises 32 acres and five habitat types — open water (the pond itself), emergent marsh, sedge meadow, shrub swamp and relic peat bog.

The Green Heron Pond wetland is made up of five unique habitat types.

The pond is fed by water that originates at a well in the Arboretum’s Bennett-Johnson Prairie. The water flows from the well through the Wildflower Garden, into the Iris Garden Pond and finally into Green Heron Pond. Water is pumped from there to irrigate the Arb’s gardens. (Ever noticed that big boxy machine on the west side of the pond? That’s the pumping station!)

Water is pumped from Green Heron Pond to irrigate the Arboretum’s gardens.

Jumping worms are creating erosion problems in the woods beside the pond. These worms are spreading throughout Minnesota; a new sign along the trail offers information and tips for helping slow their spread.  

This interpretive sign along Green Heron Pond informs visitors about jumping worms — an invasive species spreading throughout Minnesota.

The lady’s slippers at the start of the Wurtele Bog Boardwalk, and another patch part way along, were planted in the ‘60s and ‘70s, not long after the Arboretum was established. 

Showy lady’s slippers along the Bog Boardwalk were planted in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Efforts are underway to get rid of the invasive reed canary grass and hybrid cattails in the wetland. Improvement is already being seen, with natives like arrowhead, blue flag iris and jewelweed filling in where the invasives have been removed. 

Native plants including blue flag iris are making a resurgence in the wetland as invasive species are cleared.

Some of the tamaracks along the boardwalk have, sadly, succumbed to the eastern larch beetle

The wetland supports a wide array of insects, birds and mammals, including these I saw on my walk:

Red admiral butterfly and blue damselfly

Female red-winged blackbird

Eastern wood-pewee and eastern Phoebe

Beaver trails and beaver handiwork

If you too would like to experience this lovely wetland and learn more about how it’s managed and the restoration work taking place here, you can register for an upcoming Special Access tour with horticulturist Sarah Rademacher.

Holly Einess is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. More information about the program is available on the Minnesota Master Naturalist website.